Hospitality chiefs are happy with the government’s guidance as they prepare to re-open restaurants, bars and pubs next month, but BGC CEO Michael Dugher believes the decision to keep casinos closed is “inconsistent and frankly nonsensical”.
Hospitality trade bodies have welcomed government guidance for restaurants, bars and pubs, with the easing of the lockdown allowing many sectors to re-open on 4 July – but not all.
Despite their similarity to many hospitality businesses that will be opening, casinos will remain shut beyond Phase 3 of the lockdown.
“We welcome the fact that the lockdown is being eased further. The whole country has made sacrifices over the past few months to combat the coronavirus and it’s good news that the Government is determined to get the economy moving again by reopening the likes of pubs, restaurants, cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls, whilst protecting public health,” said Betting and Gaming Council chief executive Michael Dugher. “But it is inconsistent and frankly nonsensical that casinos are being forced to remain closed, when other parts of the hospitality and leisure industry are opening up again. We want to urgently work with Ministers to ensure that casinos are reopened safely and as speedily as possible this summer”.
Particularly stinging to the casino sector will be the fact that other businesses will not only be allowed to open, but will do so under a new 1 metre plus social distancing rule, enabling many restaurants and pubs to have more viable reopenings. There was no guidance given with regards to gaming machines.
The pub sector has wasted little time swinging into campaign mode: the Long Live The Local campaign was relaunched on Wednesday to encourage people to visit their local pub to help it get back on its feet, following months of closure.
Work, though, on getting Covid-secure will be intensive for the pub sector; health and safety risk assessments, keeping temporary records of customers for 21 days, maintaining social distance when taking orders, contactless payments, encouraging the ordering of food and drink and takeaways online or via phone, social distance markings for toilet queues, cleaning down of surfaces.
In the broader tourism sector, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls praised the guidance given by the government, which she said had “understood the need for flexibility, demonstrating that they have listened to businesses”.
“The emphasis is now going to be on businesses and customers to exercise some responsibility and ensuring that the guidance works optimally,” she added “Venues are acutely aware of the need to build up trust and consumer confidence, and make customers feel safe in their venues. Looking after our guests is the hospitality sector’s modus operandi, so we have plenty of experience in taking care of customers and I am confident we can rise to this challenge.”