K Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a raft of new coronavirus restrictions for England, including a 10 pm curfew for casinos, pub, bars and restaurants, effective Thursday. He said the new measures could last for up to six months, and also warned "significantly greater restrictions" could come if necessary, as reported by the BBC.
Johnson said "similar steps" would be taken across the UK after he met with the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during a Cobra emergency committee meeting on Tuesday morning. Like England, Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, also announced a 10 pm curfew for hospitality businesses. The same measure is also set to come into force in Wales on Thursday. It comes as the number of UK cases rose by 4,926 on Tuesday, government figures showed, with deaths increasing by 37.
Speaking in the House of Common, the prime minister told MPs: "We always knew that while we might have driven the virus into retreat, the prospect of a second wave was real. I'm sorry to say that, as in Spain and France and many other countries, we've reached a perilous turning point."
From tomorrow, COVID-19 Secure guidelines will become legal obligations in retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors.— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) September 23, 2020
Businesses that break this law will be fined and could be closed if they breach these rules.
➡️ https://t.co/gTIJGh6mLB pic.twitter.com/18sCntO0dC
Johnson said the new rules were "carefully judged" to achieve the maximum reduction in the R number - which measures how quickly the virus is spreading - while causing "the minimum damage to lives and livelihoods". But he said this was "by no means a return to the full lockdown of March", with no general instructions to stay at home.
Responding to Boris Johnson’s announcement of further Covid restrictions, Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) said in a release Tuesday that the 10 pm curfew will cut casino incomes by up to 75 percent “and likely lead to half their workforce – some 7,000 people – being made redundant.”
“Boris Johnson may well have signalled the death knell for the casino industry by including them in the list of venues which will be forced to close their doors at 10pm. He has taken this decision despite the sector offering to close its bars and restaurants inside casinos at 10pm and despite the fact the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport argued that casinos – which do up to 70 per cent of their trade after 10pm – should be exempt from these restrictions,” Dugher continued. “In his statement, the Prime Minister said ‘we will ensure that businesses can stay open in a Covid-compliant way’. But his own public health officials saw for themselves the sophisticated anti-Covid measures which casinos have put in place – and then gave them the go-ahead to re-open just last month because they are Covid-safe.”
“It is now absolutely vital that the Government throws the industry a lifeline by putting in place an urgent economic package to alleviate the damage that this decision will cause. That must include an extension to the furlough scheme beyond 31 October, while there is also merit in Labour’s calls for a £1.7bn ‘High Street fightback fund’ to help those businesses affected by the curfew.”
“Without immediate and substantial financial help from the Government, perfectly viable casinos – which between them paid £1.3bn in tax to the Treasury in the last three years – will simply go to the wall. How does the Prime Minister hope to power an economic recovery if he’s sat back and allowed whole industries to go to the wall?” BGC CEO concluded.