he Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday announced new restrictions on hospitality and licensed trade, including the closure of casinos, in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
In the central belt area, focusing on five health board areas (Ayrshire & Arran; Forth Valley; Greater Glasgow & Clyde; Lanarkshire; Lothian), casinos and bingo halls, snooker and pool halls, bowling alleys will have to shut down for two weeks as of Saturday, October 10.
The new rules come after the number of coronavirus cases in Scotland rose by 1,054 overnight - the highest daily increase since the pandemic began.
Sturgeon told parliament that actions are needed now to prevent a return to the peak level of infections experienced in spring by the end of this month. “While there are significant restrictions still in place - and they are hard and painful - we are living much more freely now than in the spring and early summer,” she said. “We are determined - if at all possible - that this will continue to be the case. We are not going back into lockdown today. We are not closing schools. We are not halting the remobilisation of the NHS for non-Covid care. And we are not asking people to stay at home.”
“The need for action is highlighted by today’s figures and, more fundamentally, in the evidence paper published today. To try to interrupt this trajectory, we must act now. While the measures will feel like a backward step, they are in the interests of protecting our progress overall,” Sturgeon added.
Responding to Sturgeon’s announcement of further Covid restrictions on Scotland’s hospitality sector, a spokesperson for the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) said: “This news will come as a huge blow to casinos in Scotland, which only reopened their doors in August and who have been trying to rebuild their businesses since then.”
“However, we welcome the First Minister’s announcement of financial help for the hospitality sector, and call on the Scottish Government to ensure it gets to the businesses that need it most – including casinos – as quickly as possible,” they added.
The new restrictions will also see all pubs and restaurants across central Scotland close. The measures, backed by a new £40 million support fund for business and the existing UK Job Retention Scheme, will be in place nationwide for 16 days, with tighter restrictions across central belt areas where the infection rate is highest.