UK government orders casinos to stay closed until 15 August

31 July 2020

UK casinos are to remain closed until at least 15 August after the government postponed the further easing of lockdown measures put in place due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Earlier this month, the government said that it would allow more indoor venues including casinos, cinemas and bowling alleys to reopen from tomorrow (1 August) as part of its gradual easing of lockdown in the UK.

Casinos have been closed since 20 March and remained shuttered despite other land-based gambling outlets such as betting shops (15 June) and bingo halls (4 July) being allowed to welcome back customers.

However, the government has now delayed the planned relaxation of measures on larger indoor venues, with these now set to remain shut for at least another two weeks.

Planned trials of sports event with some fans in attendance will also now not take place until later this month at the earliest.

“We simply cannot take the risk; we will continue to study the data carefully and move forward with our intention to open up as soon as we can,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

However, Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, hit out at the decision, saying there is “no evidence” to show that casinos are higher risk venues. He also blasted the decision to enforce the ongoing closures nationwide.

“What happened to the government’s local lockdown strategy,” Dugher said in a Twitter post. “Why should a casino business remain closed in Bristol in the south west, where Covid-19 is low, because there’s a spike in greater Manchester? Big threat to jobs.”

The announcement came after the government last night (July 30) reintroduced a number of restrictions in northern England over concerns about an increase in Covid-19 cases. People living in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire can no longer meet with other households inside their homes.

The Scottish government has warned against all but essential travel to the regions.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday also set a provisional date of 24 August for the country’s casinos, bingo halls and amusement arcades to reopen, subject to a further decline in Covid-19 cases.

However, Sturgeon said that the indicative dates are not confirmed, meaning they may still be changed should the government decide there has not been enough of a reduction in cases across the country.

It is not yet clear whether today’s announcement by the Prime Minister will have an impact on the planned Scottish reopening, with Covid-19 cases only mainly on the rise in England. 

The Welsh government is yet to announce a reopening date for casinos in the country.