New emergency measures as crisis worsens
All casinos and betting shops in the UK must cease to operate after Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced Tier 5 coronavirus restrictions.
Johnson addressed the nation in a press conference on Monday night. On December 29, a record of more than 80,000 people tested positive for the virus in the UK. The Prime Minister explained that this rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, along with a fast-spreading, highly infectious virus strain, made it necessary to introduce the highest level of restrictions with immediate effect.
new restrictions are in effect until at least mid-February
Under Tier 5 conditions, England’s non-essential retail and entertainment venues must close their doors. This includes all betting shops and casinos, in addition to other businesses such as restaurants, clothing stores, and pubs. Residents can only leave home for work or other business deemed essential. The new restrictions are in effect until at least mid-February. Scotland and Wales recently introduced similar measures.
Sports given the green light
Unlike the UK’s first lockdown in March 2020, Johnson has permitted professional sporting events to continue throughout. This includes the UK’s professional soccer leagues and horse racing events. Prior to Christmas, authorities allowed up to 2,000 fans in stadiums in lower-risk areas. However, under Tier 5 conditions, all sports must operate behind closed doors.
In a statement on Twitter, the British Horseracing Authority confirmed racing will go ahead during the Tier 5 lockdown:
According to figures reported by the Racing Post, the closure of betting shops will cost the horse racing industry close to $17m per month. However, the continuation of events behind closed doors will allow the sector to mitigate losses through online sports betting platforms.
Scottish and Welsh restrictions
Similar to England, Welsh and Scottish betting shops and casinos have faced intermittent periods of closures since March 2020. Following concerns over the new strain of coronavirus, Scotland and Wales entered lockdowns prior to Johnson’s announcement.
By order of Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, Wales entered a Tier 4 lockdown for a minimum of three weeks on December 20. Under the order, all non-essential shops and hospitality venues must remain closed, including betting shops and casinos. Once the three weeks have ended, Drakeford said a review would take place to deem whether further closures are necessary.
more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced similar measures for her country on Monday. Under the restrictions, betting shops and casinos in Scotland are to remain closed until at least February. Residents must stay at home whenever possible. Commenting on the coronavirus situation in the country, Sturgeon said she was “more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year.”