Central government officials as well as local authorities in the UK are considering a 10pm curfew to try and slow the spread of COVID-19. A curfew would force many businesses to close their doors. The Betting and Gaming Council has warned that if the curfew is put in place, thousands of employees in the casino sector of the United Kingdom will lose their job.
Michael Dugher, the Betting and Gaming Council Chief Executive, along with Genting UK boss Paul Wilcock, sent a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden. In the letter, they stated that the curfew would ‘devastate’ the industry. Casinos in the UK see about 50 to 70 percent of their trading take place after 10 pm.
Casinos in Britain employ 14,000 people. The venues only reopened in August after they closed down in March due to the lockdown connected to the coronavirus outbreak. Casinos have been praised for the measures taken to fight the virus. They are limiting capacity as well as using screens to social distancing players and dealers.
The letter also pointed out that the typical age of a visitor at a UK casino is 48. This is above the age profile that officials are trying to target with the curfew. Groups of young adults also do not use casinos to gather in which to drink after 10 pm. Venues are willing to take action to prevent such groups from gathering if they were to try to at the casinos.
Dugher and Wilcock feel that businesses should not be subject to the curfew if they are COVID-secure and are not providing services to the age group that the measure targets. They call the blanket measure one that would result in ‘thousands of redundancies in a very short time frame.’
Help Businesses Stay Open
Dugher stated further that they support the need to act quickly to help protect public health and are thankful for the support that the government has provided the casino sector. However, they feel the blanket curfew will force casinos to close once again.
According to Dugher, any new measures involving social distancing should focus on areas as well as age groups in the country that are most at risk.