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British casinos propose alcohol ban to see off further COVID lockdowns

9th October 2020 9:41 am GMT

Britain’s casinos are proposing to stop serving alcohol in an effort to avoid wider restrictions on their operations due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in England, Scotland and Wales.

The Scottish government has already announced the closure of hospitality venues in COVID-19 hotspots and there are fears of similar moves in England and Wales, where venues including casinos are already subject to a 10pm curfew, having been forced to completely close earlier in the year.

The industry has warned that further closures could result in the loss of thousands of jobs, with casino revenues already 70 per cent lower than last year due to COVID regulations.

“Casinos have already proved, thanks to their world class track and trace systems, the use of Perspex screens, hand sanitisers and strict social distancing rules, that they are COVID-secure according to Public Health England,” said Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council.

“There are relatively few casinos, we know that their impact on COVID is negligible and they have in fact operated perfectly safely since re-opening in August. There are no public health grounds to order their closure now.”

Dugher stressed the need for ministers to understand that casinos are not “pseudo-nightclubs or places where young people go to drink”, despite operators’ willingness to reduce their risk levels even further by refusing to serve alcohol.

“In light of all of this, I would urge ministers to be reasonable and allow casinos to remain safely open and continue to play their part in raising desperately-needed tax revenues for the Treasury, whilst also stopping the spread of the coronavirus,” Dugher concluded.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a new three-tier system of local lockdowns next week which could see hospitality businesses ordered to close for weeks in an attempt to bring down infection rates.

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