1st April 2021
Wales – First Minister, Mark Drakeford, today provided more detail on the re-opening plans for Wales. Inevitably they are virtually the same as England but with a few differences. Non-essential retail will open from April 12th and the country will move to level 3 on May 17th with consideration being given to getting indoor entertainment open by the late Spring Bank Holiday. This means arcades could be open later in Wales than they are in England and Scotland by a week or so. We are also still no clearer on whether AGCs will be treated as non-essential retail. Promising conversations over the past week have turned south as they move to the centre of the WG. We continue to lobby as hard as we can and we won’t have a final confirmation of the position until next week. Full details of today’s announcement can be found here https://gov.wales/moving-wales-alert-level-3-first-minister-sets-out-plans-further-relax-covid-restrictions
Scotland – Similarly in Scotland, whilst we have an indicative May 17th date for the opening of amusement arcades it is still not clarified whether this does or does not include AGCs. We met again with Scottish Government this week and they too are seeking to get clarity. On our other main ask north of the border, for a separate machine suppliers’ fund, we got a point blank refusal after weeks of silence, despite interventions from Kate Forbes and Fergus Ewing. The rather bizarre explanation was that there was no money left for business support.
England – The Restart Grant Scheme was launched today. This is the latest (and probably last) support fund for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses. This will again be admistered through Local Authorities who will unhelpfully have different ways of processing applications. It is hoped in most cases they will simply automatically distribute the funds as they have all the information they need from previous grant schemes.
- whatever the date we get back to business it is important to remember that the covid-19 risk assessments members have all undertaken are still to be followed. It may be worth a refresh. Bacta’s template guidance for England, Scotland and Wales is on the bacta website.
- Members should also look again at the key things you must do to follow Covid-19 legislation and guidance – whilst largely untouched from when we last re-opened there are some tweaks AND please note, in England, it is now a legal requirement to take reasonable steps to collect track and trace data from all people over the age of 16 visiting your premises and not just one member of a group or family. Remember to use the Track and Trace bar code poster.
- Remember too that the wearing of face masks will continue to be a legal requirement.
- This is the link to the visitor economy guidance for England (AGCs should follow the Shops and Branches Guidance). Both are much the same and both are much the same in Scotland and Wales, but please do check the relevant web page for your business. These documents are very good, easy to read summaries of what you need to do. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/the-visitor-economy
Quick Supply Chain survey
Could I also ask Members supplying machines to pubs and clubs and our manufacturer/distributor members to ping me back quick answers to these questions in relation to support:
- Have you received a discretionary grant from your local authority
- If yes, how much?
I need more evidence to give the three governments as to why we need support – principally by demonstrating what they say we should be getting is not landing in the bank accounts of our supply chain members.
Finally on Covid matters can I implore members to get employees and everyone they know and everyone you know to sign our two petitions. One calling for a 5% rate of VAT for seaside arcades and one demanding AGCs open as non-essential retail. We need to get to 10,000 signatures.
VAT – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/578861 over 800 signatures so far
AGCs – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/579051 over 1700 signatures so far
Category D cash fruit machines – it is a moot point but our policy of preventing under 18 year olds playing on cash payout Category D Fruit machines came into effect today. We have provided members with stickers to use on machines to indicate the new policy. We have also prepared a policy template about how business can implement the policy. This is not part of the bacta Code, it is up to members how to give the policy effect, but if anyone wants to adopt it then please drop me a line.
Miles for Smiles
Finally, can I congratulate and thank every one of the bacta smilers who during February and March clocked up over 50,000 Smile Miles in support of the Bacta Charitable Trust. The total was crucial as it unlocked another £500 of sponsorship from James Miller and Tim Batstone – and I know it was a powerful incentive in the last few hours of 31st March. I also want to thank Tony Glanville and his mum whose videos encouraging us all to keep going have become legendary – and worked! You can still make a donation to recognise everyone’s fantastic efforts at our just giving page. Please do and try and find something down the back of the sofa even in these difficult times. The money will be put to very good use. https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bactamilesforsmiles