Boris Johnson to End COVID Restrictions in England, Casinos and Racetracks Back to Normal

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Sports venues, betting stores, and casinos in England will return to normal on July 19 following yesterday’s COVID-19 briefing from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to end all COVID restrictions in England on July 19, paving the way for normal betting and gaming. (Image: Twitter/Boris Johnson)

The winds of change began to blow last week. The departure of Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who resigned after being caught having an affair, has shifted the government’s tone. Hancock’s replacement, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, has said the country has to “learn to live with the virus.”

Boris Johnson doubled down on that Monday night during a press briefing. He said that, pending a final review on July 12, all remaining COVID restrictions will be removed on July 19.

Casinos, betting stores, and racetracks prepare for old normal

If all goes to plan, casinos, racetracks, and sporting venues can go back to full capacity. Social distancing mandates will also be dropped, as will the requirement to wear facemasks. Life, in general, will be back to normal for all intents and purposes.

Ascot racecourse has all but confirmed that it will be back to full capacity. Tickets for events taking place this month have been on hold since the start of 2021. However, an email sent out today states that they’ll be mailed out ASAP.

Live poker operators are hedging their bets and staying tight-lipped for now. They remember the last-minute U-turns of 2020. However, London’s Hippodrome recently put out a call for new workers.

Casinos in England reopened on May 17 with restrictions in place. Despite capacity limits, facemask requirements, and social distancing rules, poker rooms have been buzzing. Now, with all that set to end, business is likely to increase. That means casinos now have to replace workers who found new jobs while the industry was on lockdown.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), welcomed yesterday’s announcement. He described it as “great news” for an industry that’s had to “endure” many months of closures and “crippling restrictions.” He went on to say that, even though restrictions will be lifted, the efforts to keep people safe won’t be forgotten.

“Throughout the pandemic, casinos have spent millions of pounds on best-in-class anti-COVID measures and will continue to ensure their venues are as safe as possible for customers and staff once the remaining restrictions are lifted,” Dugher said.

Vaccines break COVID links in England

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in England and the UK as a whole. Yesterday’s data shows there 27,334 new cases reported. Crucially, however, the link between infections and serious illness or death appears to have been broken. Even with cases increasing, the UK’s total number of daily deaths on July 5 was nine.

uk covid deaths
Deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test remain low in the UK. (Image: Worldometers)

Critics, including TV presenter Piers Morgan, called the reopening a “massive gamble” due to the Delta variant. However, while the data shows this variant is more infectious, the government’s scientific advisors confirmed on June 14 that the vaccines are “highly effective” against it.

COVID-19 has divided opinion, but the evidence suggests that death or serious illness is no longer a major threat, particularly in those who are vaccinated. Per the latest stats, 86% of the UK’s adult population has had one dose of vaccine, while 64% have had two doses.

Based on that, Johnson believes we must now accept COVID as part of normal life. For nowm, at least, that means the betting and gaming industry can return to the old normal.

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