England officially entered Step 2 of its COVID-19 “roadmap out of lockdown” on Monday. The latest easing of restrictions means that betting stores across the country can now reopen.
England entered its third national lockdown on Jan. 6. Although many parts of the country were already under stay-at-home orders, Prime Minister Boris Johnson enforced another nationwide shutdown in the first week of 2021.
Casinos, bingo halls, and betting stores have all been closed since that time. Now, however, business is slowly returning to normal thanks to falling infection rates and the government’s plan to lift restrictions.
Betting stores reopen as COVID restrictions ease
April 12 saw England enter the second phase of its unlocking. Prior to this, all non-essential businesses were closed and people were only allowed outside for certain reasons.
The latest rules mean 6,000 betting stores in England can now resume service.
As devolved countries, Wales and Scotland have the power to implement their own COVID rules. Betting stores in Wales also opened on April 12, but those in Scotland will remain closed until April 26.
Ongoing COVID safety measures
With William Hill, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, and other bookmakers getting ready to reopen their doors, bookmakers and punters need to be aware that the following COVID safety measures will be remaining in place:
- The number of customers per store will be limited (dependent on the size of the store)
- No live sport will be shown inside the store
- There will be no tables and chairs in the store
- Customers will be required to wear facemasks unless they’re exempt
- Two-meter social distancing rules will be in place
- Only two fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs)/gaming machines will be switched on
- Customers will be limited to two visits per store, per day
- Customers can only spend a certain amount of time in a store (time limits are store-dependent)
- Stores will close at 8pm
The reopening of betting stores is the first step in what should be a continued move toward normality.
When Will Casinos Reopen in England?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson described his roadmap out of lockdown as an “irreversible” plan.
Although he and his government ministers have backtracked on countless claims during the pandemic, the cautious timeline should facilitate the lifting of all restrictions by June 21.
England’s COVID roadmap and the betting industry
April 12: Betting stores across England and Wales can reopen. Any casino with outdoor entertainment facilities can reopen, but gaming isn’t allowed. The Hippodrome Casino in London will take advantage of this clause and reopen its rooftop bar on April 15 with a maximum capacity of 150 people.
April 26: Betting stores in Scotland can reopen.
May 17: Bingo halls and casinos in England can reopen with the same COVID safety measures they had in place last year.
June 21: All restrictions to be lifted. Betting stores, bingo halls, and casinos can, at their discretion, remove all safety measures, including plexiglass screens, social distancing markers, and mask mandates.
Current government advice is that all dates and rules are subject to change. However, England — and the UK as a whole — are in a position where COVID-19 is no longer the risk it once was.
April 12 saw 3,568 new cases recorded and 13 deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test. The previous day saw seven deaths within a population of 66.65 million.
Along with plummeting rates, more than 32 million people have been vaccinated, including 99% of those considered to be among the most vulnerable.
As such, it appears that things are moving in the right direction for betting operators — and for everyone else — in England. It’s far from a dead certain, but the odds of a normal summer are in the industry’s favor right now.