COVID19: Delta Variant Keeping Dusk Till Dawn Closed as England’s Freedom Day Looms

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The famous Dusk Till Dawn poker room won’t reopen on Monday, despite all COVID-19 restrictions in England being removed.

Dusk Till Dawn
Dusk Till Dawn will remain closed due to rising COVID-19 case numbers in the UK. (Image: Partypoker Live)

Owner Rob Yong took to Twitter Thursday night to update players on the situation. Although he admits there’s “pressure” to open, he’s concerned about the current number of COVID-19 cases in the UK.

Yong bucked the trend in May by refusing to reopen when casinos in England were given the green light. He didn’t want to offer poker in a limited capacity and have a variety of restrictions in place like other poker rooms. Even though safety measures such as facemasks won’t be required as of Monday, Yong still doesn’t believe it’s right to reopen right now.

Dusk Till Dawn not built for pandemics

Yong’s main argument is that Dusk Till Dawn is different from other poker rooms in England. For operators such as Grosvenor, poker is an accompaniment to casino games. As such, the Vic, the Hippodrome, and the Empire typically don’t have space for more than 20 poker tables.

Dusk Till Dawn’s gaming floor, however, is almost entirely dominated by poker tables. In fact, it’s one of the largest live poker rooms in Europe with the ability to host more than 500 players at any time. Given the current prevalence of the Delta variant in England, and in the UK as a whole, Yong thinks it’s too risky to open the club at full capacity.

Given that he’s already adopted an all-or-nothing strategy, he’s opting for nothing.

The response to Yong’s decision has been mixed. Many are happy to wait. Others, frustrated by the lack of live poker over the last 18 months, believe it’s a mistake. The most common argument among those eager for Dusk Till Dawn to reopen is the focus on case numbers.

“Cases arnt (sic) the metric to be followed!” @jaktavfc tweeted in response to Yong. “Even the death rate is questionable, would be interesting to see how many people die within 28 days of positive tests for other illnesses! COVID isn’t going anywhere I’m afraid.”

The Delta variant of COVID-19 is proving to be more transmissible than any other and is causing cases numbers in England — and the UK as a whole — to rise.

Singular focus could keep club closed for a long time

Focusing on a single metric alone fails to take in the bigger picture. Although it’s a debated topic among scientists, there is a general acceptance that viruses become less deadly, but more transmissible, as they evolve. The theory is that a virus wants to survive. Therefore, if it continues to kill hosts at a high rate, it will run out of people to infect.

Burtram Fielding, a corona-virologist at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, believes this is what we’re seeing with COVID-19.

“The ultimate aim of a pathogen is to reproduce, to make more of itself. Any pathogen that kills the host too fast will not give itself enough time to reproduce,” Fielding told Smithsonian Magazine.

Logic suggests that more people will get seriously ill and, in turn, die, if a virus spreads faster and infects more people. There’s merit to this argument, but data from the UK also shows that vaccines are breaking the link between infections and death.

Wall of vaccines is working

More than 81 million doses of vaccine have been administered in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. That equates to 87.5% of the UK’s adult population having one dose, and 67.1% having two. This so-called “wall of vaccines,” in tandem with what may be a less deadly variant, has seen daily death rates remain low.

There were 48,553 new cases of COVID-19 in the UK on Thursday and 63 deaths within a population of 66.65 million.

uk covid cases
COVID cases in the UK are rising. (Image: Worldometers)

The last time there was a similar number of daily cases was on Jan. 14, 2021, when 48,502 infections and 1,250 deaths were reported within 28 days of a positive test. For further context, around 1,000-1,500 people die in the UK every day under normal circumstances.

uk covid deaths
Despite a rise in COVID cases, daily deaths remain low. (Image: Worldometers)

This suggests the vaccines are working and is giving rise to the argument that, if things don’t reopen now, they may never go back to normal. Indeed, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes the time has come to live with COVID-19, just as we do seasonal flu.

For Yong and Dusk Till Dawn, however, discretion remains the better part of valor at the moment. And, for those that want to play live poker unencumbered, other venues across England will be removing restrictions on Monday.

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