12th October 2020
Today the Prime Minister announced a new response to the pandemic for England, introducing a three tier categorisation of infection risk in a specified area and corresponding lockdown measure associated with each. There is no change to current restrictions for our sector for the first two tiers but Adult Gaming Centres and pubs (other than those serving substantial meals) will have to close if any area is deemed to be at the tier 3 level of Very High Alert. Details are below:
The concern is clearly that more and more areas across England increasingly become caught by the tier 3 restrictions. We have been busy over the weekend explaining once again the impact this is having on all parts of our industry and emphasising the need for support across the supply chain. As mentioned last week, businesses that are legally ordered to close will be able to claim the enhanced Job Support Scheme which will pay two thirds of a persons salary. There will also be cash grants for closed businesses up to £3,000.
It is unclear until we see the Regs whether the reference to AGCs also includes FECs.
In those pubs that are acting effectively as restaurants and can stay open, there is no reason customers cannot play machines in our view.
We will extend our lobbying to local authorities to explain why we should not be included in any further lockdown measures as it appears from today’s announcements that these are still being negotiated.
Three Tier Alert Level System
The Government announced the new three Tier System for Coronavirus Control, which will come into effect on Wednesday. Every part of England will be designated as of the following three Alert zones:
Most of England will be in this alert level and will be subject to the current national measures such as the 10pm curfew and the rule of six.
Prevents mixing between different households indoors. Most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into the high alert level. As a result of rising infection rates, Nottinghamshire, East and West Cheshire and a small area of High Peak will also move into this alert level. In these areas, the Rule of Six will continue to apply outdoors, in public spaces and private gardens.
Very High Alert
Prevents social mixing indoors and private gardens – bars and pubs will be required to close. In addition to these baseline requirements, the Government and local government leaders in each very High Alert areas will agree other specific additional measures which could include further restrictions on the hospitality, leisure, entertainment or personal care sectors. But retail, schools and universities will remain open. It was announced that Merseyside would be classified as a very High Alert area and in addition to the baseline requirements, gyms and leisure centres, betting shops, adult gaming centres and casinos will also close from Wednesday.
It was also announced that Government engagement with local leaders in the North West, the North East and Yorkshire & Humber was continuing, suggesting that these areas may also be designated as Very High Alert soon.
Regulations for all three Covid local alert levels are being laid today. They will be debated and voted on tomorrow, before coming into force on Wednesday. People will be able to check what alert level any particular areas are in through an online postcode checker
In Scotland, details of how the additional £40 million given to the Scottish Government to help businesses cope with the extra restrictions announced last week have been published. https://www.gov.scot/news/protecting-jobs-and-businesses/. The Scottish Government has recognised the impact on supply chains from closures but including grants of up to £1,500 for impacted businesses. It’s a drop in the ocean of the impact our Division 2 and 4 members have experienced but at least that impact has been acknowledged. I will circulate details when I get them.
In Wales, a further area, Bangor, has been placed in local lockdown. No additional restrictions are imposed on the amusement machine sector.