14th December 2021 – Member Update
I am sure all members will be watching the news as avidly as I am. The exponential growth of the Omicron variant and the absence of clarity about its health impact has got us all worrying whether or not we will see another lockdown in England, Scotland and Wales.
I have identified in previous Updates the different approaches the different administrations are taking. So far the direct business restrictions have not had a major impact on us outside of the requirement to wear masks. However, the clear impact on customer confidence is plain to see. In London this Monday tube traffic was down 50%. If customers stay away from our venues or our customers’ venues, we could see a very real impact on machine income. It would be really helpful if all members could answer these quick questions by return so I can fully brief Governments across Britain.
How much of a decline in footfall have you seen in your venues on average since the beginning of December? ………. X%
How much of a decline in cash box income have you seen on average since the beginning of December?…………………..X%
Personally, I don’t see another lockdown coming. Scotland and Wales seem to want to introduce more restrictions than England and today, Nicola Sturgeon has said no more than three households should meet over Christmas other than Christmas Day. She has also today said that physical distancing will be introduced for shops and hospitality venues – details to follow. Nevertheless, the political difficulty of full on lockdowns (tonight’s well trailed rebellion of Tory MPs demonstrates the point) and the potential absence of widespread compliance from populations on the edge, restricts any sense I have that this is the direction of travel. Having said that, the measure introduced so far, as mentioned above, are having a chilling effect on people’s confidence to socialise and this may create as one observer called it, a lockdown by stealth.
We are in constant dialogue with DCMS over the development of Government thinking and continue to feed in our views and evidence and I will bring you any breaking news as it occurs. Extant guidance, which you will have seen before, has been tweaked to reflect the various changes that have been introduced, and the Government websites are now fully up to date.
As always if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.