13th July 2021
England – Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, yesterday confirmed that all legal covid-related restrictions will disappear on July 19th. In a slight change of tone, the wearing of face masks will be encouraged, particularly in enclosed spaces and on public transport. Click here for further detail. The removal of social distancing in particular will come as a welcome step for the hospitality sector and for arcades who will also be able to remove capacity constraints, flexi glass and other risk mitigation measures. Members are advised however that before doing so, consideration is given to likely customer reaction to entirely removing any of the measures you have put in place. It is likely that many customers will be looking to businesses to maintain certain elements of the Covid-19 response to keep them safe, for example through the provision of hand sanitizer. Members should also continue to display the track and trace posters for customers to use.
Scotland – First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, this afternoon confirmed further details about Scotland’s plans. The whole Country will move to Level 0 on July 19th but there are modifications to the plans given previously. Of note she said there will be a requirement to wear face masks for some time into the future. Hospitality will see Social Distancing fall from 2 metres to 1 metre between groups. Customers will still be required to be seated and provide Test and Protect details. Pubs will have to close at midnight (currently 11.00 p.m.) but there will be no need to book a two hour slot. More generally the FM is still encouraging people to work from home if they can. The expectation is still for Scotland to drop all legal restrictions on August 9th. The FM’s statement can be read here.
Self-Exclusion – I hope members are getting used to the new Self-Exclusion system hosted on the bactaPortal. We would welcome any feedback from those of you using the demo site. We will be writing to you very shortly asking you to sign a contract for the new service. This contract MUST BE SIGNED before we can make the service available to you. This is to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act and associated legislation. If you do not have access to the service you will need to make alternative provisions to ensure compliance with the LCCP.
Subscriptions – As Members will know we have not chased anyone for their subscriptions during the past eighteen months for very obvious reasons. I hope this has helped in a small way with cash flow and the very real financial stress that the pandemic has caused. Bacta is now approaching its subscription year-end and we do need to ensure we have collected any outstanding dues. If you are now able to pay your subscription can I please ask you to do so as soon as possible. If you have any difficulty doing so can you please contact Linda Morrison in the Finance Department on Linda@bacta.org.uk.
Arcade Robberies – Since re-opening I have picked up a number of reports about criminals targeting High Street AGCs. We are now one of the few places on the high street where cash is still being used in significant amounts. This has not gone unnoticed by the criminal fraternity as more and more people go cashless. This is of course one of the reasons why the GPT App is so useful and one of the reasons we have asked for the prohibition on debit card use on machines to be removed in the Gambling Act Review. It would be helpful if any member that might have experienced a robbery or attempted robbery could drop me a line, confidentially, so I can try to ascertain the scale of the problem.
Shortage of Labour – Some Members have reported difficulty recruiting staff in the post-Brexit post-pandemic landscape. We have fed this into Government and asked UK Hospitality to include arcades in their lobbying efforts to get hospitality businesses included on the list of sectors that can recruit overseas staff without having to go through the points-based immigration system. Government has said they will not look at this again until 2022, so in the meantime members will need to be familiar with the system (see previous Updates or Click here).
The CBI is also lobbying on this issue and has asked if members could take 10 minutes to complete this questionnaire to help build their evidence base.
PPL Fees – In a very real success for bacta, PPL this week confirmed following negotiations with bacta, that it will not charge a PPL licence for jukeboxes during the pandemic (12 months from 20th March 2020) and fees will be reduced by 50% from 21st March 2021 to July 19th (in England) or until such date as Covid restrictions are fully removed in Wales and Scotland. Details will be sent to members by PPL in the next couple of weeks.