Casinos in England will be ready to reopen with social distancing from early next month, the industry has declared.
England’s land-based casinos will be ready to reopen from 4 July, abiding by strict anti-Covid standards.
Casinos in England have been closed since the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown began on March 23.
The UK government has confirmed that hospitality and leisure facilities such as casinos may be able to open from July 4 as part of the third and final phase of plans to ease restrictions brought in to tackle the virus.
Casino operators represented the UK Betting and Gaming Council have now confirmed that they will be prepared to be reopen from that date.
Operators will put stringent hygiene and social distancing measures in place at all casinos to ensure the safety of staff and customers. This will include customers using hand sanitisers before entering the casino, as well as when joining and leaving a gaming table.
Entry to casinos will be limited to one person at a time, with two-metre social distancing enforced in any queues outside. Table capacity limits will be enforced and face coverings will be made available to customers on request.
Floor layouts will be redesigned to allow social distancing, gaming machines will be cleaned after each session and ATMs will be sanitised at least once an hour. Plexiglass screens may also be used where necessary to maintain social distancing and protect staff and customers.
The BGC recognised that for some venues in the high-end casino sector the relaxation of social distancing measures will not be enough to enable them to return to business, and that the lifting of travel restrictions will be necessary to allow the return of overseas tourists before there is any prospect of their doors reopening.
Michael Dugher, the BGC’s Chief Executive, said: “Casinos make a significant contribution to the economy, including through taxation and employment, as part of the leisure, hospitality, entertainment and tourism sectors.
They have also played a hugely important role, not just in the national effort to combat Covid-19 by keeping their doors shut since March, but also through their support for communities – for example with the provision of food from their kitchens and the use of their venues.
It is welcome that they are in line to reopen again from July 4, but the message to government now is that they are ready, willing and able to open safely.
We know that the casino sector faces some very tough times ahead and the threat posed by Covid to many businesses won’t go away quickly. That’s why we would also urge the government to continue to be flexible in their approach to the hospitality and leisure industry as its furlough scheme is wound down.
Even though they will be ready to open their doors on 4 July, casinos will still be forced to operate at a reduced capacity for some time to come because of the need to maintain social distancing. We would urge the Chancellor to keep being flexible and continue providing support as the country emerges from the pandemic.”
The BGC this week welcomed Joff Cooke as its new Chief Operating Officer as it warned the sector may need continued government assistance after lockdown restrictions are eased.