A few hours ago the UK gambling and racing sectors suffered another major blow. Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, confirmed that the country will face what he called a “time-limited firebreak” as of 6:00 PM on October 23rd.
The measures, which will practically take Wales back to the lockdown restrictions unveiled in March 2020, will be on for 17 days. They will result in the closure of a total of 366 betting outlets. As revealed by the authorities, the lockdown is set to affect so-called non-essential businesses that operate in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector, such as restaurants, pubs, casinos and betting shops, while local residents will be encouraged to work from home if possible, except for employees of essential businesses.
Minister Drakeford said that both outdoor and indoor gatherings with people who do not belong to the same household will not be permitted, as the authorities are hoping social distancing measures will slow down the spread of the virus.
The trade body of the gambling industry, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) urged the authorities to make sure targeted support for Wales’ gambling sector is provided, saying that 2,000 workers in casinos and betting outlets in the country will be directly affected by the latest anti-Covid-19 measures.
Betting Outlets in Lancashire and Merseyside Regions Closed a Week Ago, Too
As mentioned above, the “time-limited firebreak” will last until November 9th. The measure follows the Tier 3 anti-coronavirus measures unveiled in England a week ago, with almost 200 betting outlets forced to cease operation in Lancashire and another 350 betting outlets to shut in the Liverpool City region.
For the time being, elite sport, including racing, will not be ceased under the latest restrictions, owners will not be permitted to attend the three meetings at Bangor, Ffos Las and Chepstow during the lockdown period. The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) called for additional financial support immediately in order to help what it described as a complex financial situation.
The announcement for the closure of the non-essential retail sectors in Wales came after the Government of Northern Ireland unveiled the strictest rules in the UK on October 14th, which include a circuit-break lockdown, except for elite sport and racing.
At the time when he announced the new measures on the industry, Minister Drakeford also shared there will be an economic resilience fund worth £300 million that would be used to support businesses during the newly-unveiled lockdown period. Thanks to the fund, every small business is set to receive a one-off payment of £1,000, while medium-sized businesses operating in the leisure, retail and hospitality sector will be granted one-off payments of up to £5,000.
As mentioned above, the newly-announced closure of betting shops in Wales is expected to have a significant effect on both the gambling and racing industries. the lockdown measures have already affected some betting outlets in the Lancashire and the Merseyside regions.