Tuesday 22nd September saw the government announce a series of measures aimed at addressing the rising number of cases of coronavirus in England.
For the UK bingo community, thankfully, bingo clubs are staying open. However, further restrictions are being put in place.
According to the government website:
- Businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls, must be closed between 10pm and 5am. This will include takeaways but delivery services can continue after 10pm (from 24 September).
- In licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table.
- Customers must eat and drink at a table in any premises selling food and drink to consume indoors, on site (from 24 September).
- Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’ at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details once the app is rolled out nationally (from 24 September).
- Businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID Secure (from 28 September):
- A wider range of leisure and entertainment venues, services provided in community centres, and close contact services will be subject to the COVID-19 Secure requirements in law and fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches.
- Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
- Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated.
The new rules will likely mean many bingo clubs will have to cut short their evening's entertainment. By shortening the hours, a club's earning potential is reduced. At this stage, there is talk of evening sessions being cancelled altogether, but it may well be on the table for a few bingo venues.
In Scotland, leaked documents reported yesterday revealed measures discussed by the Scottish government include ‘closing entertainment venues: bingo, cinema, snooker, casinos, amusement arcades, funfairs.'
Already struggling under limited capacity and social distancing restrictions, further loss of earnings caused by reduced hours or closure could be the catalyst for further clubs having to reevaluate the financial viability of staying open.