15th April 2021
As I have been saying during the current round of Regional Meetings, I think we are in the end game of the Covid pandemic as far as our lobbying is concerned, and we have to have more than half an eye on our post-Covid strategy in what we say and do. Our three main asks, 5% VAT rate for seaside arcades, more support for the supply chain and re-opening of AGCs as non-essential retail, remain our focus (and I hope everyone has signed our petitions on this) but we are framing our arguments as much for the future as for the present.
For example, on AGCs re-opening we are ensuring we burnish our SR credentials and seek to get MPs and other stakeholders out to visit venues over the summer so they can see what we are really like. If there is any kind of future lockdown (and I hope sincerely there will not), their understanding will bolster all the things we have said to them up to this point.
Similarly on VAT (and on MGD), our eyes are now very much focused on the budget in 2022.
In respect of support for the supply chain, money is now flowing via Local Authorities. Unfortunately the amounts tend to be unhelpfully small. Our advice is keep going back for more. We have discussed this with our Public Affairs advisers, Interel, who can offer a service to members to engage with local authorities and work on your behalf to access funding. If this is of interest to anyone let me know by email and I will try to get something in place you can use.
Here are a couple of issues to note:
- Machines outside. I have explained in previous emails that If the demesne of your FEC includes some curtilage or part of the forecourt or pavement in front of the arcade, then that is covered by your licence and you can put Cat Ds there in normal times. However, under Covid 19 Regs arcades have to be shut – which therefore covers the curtilage. So you can’t put anything out at all. However, given this is outside, the transmission risk of Covid 19 is significantly reduced. Coupled with a proper cleaning regime and social distancing based upon a risk assessment the risk is lowered further. Therefore, we have suggested that a conversation be held with the Local Authority for permission to place some socially distanced machines outside. If they are happy it is highly unlikely that any action will be taken. It is best to get that permission in writing. If the local authority say no you are no worse off.
- New Track and Trace. In England any person entering a venue over the Age of 16 must be requested to provide contact details for track and trace purposes. It is no longer sufficient to take the details of one member of the group. A new NHS Track and Trace poster is also now ready for download. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-to-support-nhs-test-and-trace. If someone refuses to give details you do not necessarily have to refuse them entry.
- In Wales – the requirement to collect data for all customers under Test, Trace, Protect is already in place and also says you should refuse entry to anyone who doesn’t provide contact details https://gov.wales/keeping-records-staff-customers-and-visitors-test-trace-protect
- In Scotland – you can still take the details of lead member of a group for Test and Protect. Scottish guidance also says you should refuse entry.
- Risk Assessments: Opening on May 17th does not mean that our Covid risk mitigations end. Members are advised as part of their re-opening preparations to revisit their risk assessments and make sure staff are fully familiar with what you need to do to keep customers safe and incorporate the above.
- BactaPortal: We are showcasing the new bactaPortal during the current round of Regional Meetings. You will see a story and ad in Coin Slot this week. The Portal will host a digital customer interaction record keeping scheme as well as the industry self-exclusion scheme. Future services will be added over the coming weeks.
Finally, can I remind everyone that next Tuesday and Wednesday 20th and 21st April will be the EAG On-Line Exhibition. If you want to join the growing list of exhibitors (and it is free to bacta members) then contact Karen Cooke (email@example.com). Registrations are now also open for visitors. Please click here to get your ticket https://eagexpo.com.