Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, announced Thursday that casinos and bingo halls in the country would be able to re-open as planned, August 24, as the government is sticking to its four-stage phase-in plan, currently being in phase 3. Scotland’s First Minister also outlined COVID-19 continued to be a significant threat to public health.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the scheduled re-opening of land-based gaming facilities, subject to strict adherence to guidance and appropriate safety measures such as physical distancing.
Casinos Have Been Preparing for Re-Opening
Since their closure in March, the 11 casinos in Scotland have been working round the clock to ensure their premises are safe to re-open for both staff and customers, with risk mitigation measures ranging from perspex screens and hand sanitization stations, to sophisticated track and trace regimes and strict social distancing guidelines.
“I hope the re-opening of some services will be welcomed because we know it is essential to reduce the economic harm this virus is doing, but I hope people will also understand why, as we try to open services and keep them open, we must take firm action when rules and guidance are not being complied with.”Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland
Besides confirming the re-opening dates for non-essential businesses in the country, the First Minister announced new measures to control the spread of the virus following outbreaks across the country. Citing reports regarding recent clusters of indoor hospitality, Nicola Sturgeon highlighted bars and restaurants and other types of social gatherings, including in people’s homes to be major risk factors, prompting the introduction of new legislation.
“I am grateful to all of the many pubs, restaurants and cafes who have gone to great lengths to stick to our rules, but we know not all hospitality businesses have implemented the guidance effectively. We therefore intend to strengthen the power of local authorities to act in these circumstances.”Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland
New Legislation Will Give Extra Power to Local Authorities
New regulations that will grant local authorities the power to act in respect of individual, specific premises which are breaching safety guidelines and risking the transmission of the virus, including extra powers to police to break up and disperse large indoor gatherings, will be laid out next week, with the intention to become effective August 28.
The announcement that casinos in Scotland will re-open August 24 was welcomed by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), stating that authorities north of the border deserve credit for listening to the business, while pointing out ministers should continue to engage with the sector to ensure ongoing restrictions are practical and necessary.