7th July 2020
I hope all the members who were able to open this weekend saw some customers through the doors of the pubs, FECs and AGCs of England.
Having spoken to a number of operators over the weekend and today it seems that trade has been patchy. On the whole it seems the AGCs did quite well. The pubs were busy but there have still been issues with police and Environmental Health Officers telling publicans the machines can’t be switched on. At the coast the weather wasn’t good – some operators were OK with the numbers of customers, others disappointed. It is of course far too early to draw any conclusions about how the next few weeks and months are going to pan out. I’d like to get into the summer season proper before drawing conclusions, but please do let me know how things are going so we can draw up a picture of how the trade is developing.
It also seems on the whole that the authorities have not been troubling members. I did hear in Great Yarmouth that the EHO there was telling the arcades to turn off their air hockeys. The reason given was that you can’t operate a pool table in pub. Apart from the fact that you can, the logic escapes me. Of course you can operate an air hockey. An FEC is allowed to open and by definition the machines in the FEC have to be switched on! I would suggest that any member that finds themselves in this situation identifies the air hockey separately in their risk assessment and describes the mitigation measures you decide to put in place. I know members have special cleaning regimes for certain machines and some operators make gloves available to customers for example. If any member does have any problems with over zealous enforcement please get in touch.
I would also like to commend members for following bacta’s sector guidance, which has now been approved by Government. It did concern me however to hear that there were some venues that were reportedly less than thorough in following the guidance. Can I please ask every member to review and reassess the measures they are taking. Getting the balance right is I appreciate a judgement, but if anyone is not following the guidance then there is a danger that the local authority could take enforcement action and require the premises to shut. There is also a wider risk that the industry will be seen as not following through on the undertakings we have made, which is not helpful when we want to persuade Government to make changes to the Gambling Act or similar in the future.
Jukebox – we’ve just had a call from Crispin Somerville of Quo Vadis. He wants a jukebox by Thursday! Anyone interested can call him on 07765254999
Finally, can I let members know that bacta’s Head of Finance and Operations, Robert Gibb, is going to be out of action for a few weeks. He is fine, but this weekend came off his bike and sustained some broken bones which will take a bit of time to heal. The bacta finance team will continue to operate as normal but we might not able to respond as quickly as usual and I would like to thank you in advance for your patience.