Prime Minister Boris Johnson has introduced a new higher tier of Covid-19 restrictions.
UK.- Betting shops across large parts of England and Wales will be unable to escape further Covid-19 closures as has been hoped.
It had been decided that all betting shops would be allowed to reopen after the UK’s last Covid-19 lockdown. Venues had been told they would be able to operate even in areas placed in tier 3, which until now was the highest tier of restrictions related to the pandemic.
But over the weekend, prime minister Boris Johnson announced the creation of a new higher tier, tier 4, with more severe restrictions. Large parts of south-east and eastern England, including London, have been placed in the new higher tier.
Betting shops in the areas affected will have to close again over the festive period. Betting shops in Scotland will also have to close from Boxing Day when level 4 restrictions are introduced north of the border.
Michael Dugher, CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council, said in response to the announcement: “We fully support the determination of the UK Government and the devolved administrations to fight the spread of Covid-19 and protect our NHS.
“The announcement by the UK Government means that betting shops in England, as part of non-essential retail, sadly have closed in tier 4 areas.
“Unfortunately, betting shops in Wales have also closed as part of the country’s full lockdown, while those in mainland Scotland and Northern Ireland will close from Boxing Day.
“This is disappointing news for our staff and customers, but we hope to be able to reopen safely once again as soon as possible.
“The good news is that, unlike the full lockdown last spring, there is plenty of live sport, including racing, for people to enjoy on television over the holidays.”
Horseracing in tier 4 areas in England will be allowed to continue behind closed doors, delaying hopes for a return of spectators to events. The situation in Wales is still unclear, the British Horseracing Association (BHA) said.
The BHA said in a statement: “Racing will continue behind closed doors in tier 4 in England with no spectators and owners subjected to the same restrictions as November, which limit attendance to a maximum of 45 on the course at any point.
“Owners attending must comply with the BHA’s protocols as well as national guidance, and satisfy themselves their travel to, and attendance at, race meetings is legitimately linked to their business involvement in British racing.”
Meanwhile, the BHA has welcomed the government’s decision to review the horseracing levy charged to betting operators.