The UK is bringing an end to its COVID-19 restrictions as of next Thursday. The change should provide a boost to the country’s casinos, betting shops, and other entertainment activities.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is moving from its “Plan B” anti-COVID-19 measures to “Plan A.” The change will take effect as of next Thursday, easing a number of restrictions. Mandatory face masks in public places and COVID-19 passports will soon disappear.
The change to Plan A is a result of an increase in the number of vaccinated people, according to the Prime Minister. Coupled with adherence to Plan B guidelines and a drop in new cases, optimism is increasing that the omicron COVID-19 variant may be under control.
But not everyone is happy.
The Guardian quoted one unidentified health minister as saying, “We’re just not there yet. You don’t see cases rising in the way we have in the last few weeks if something is endemic. It’s got to be a much more stable position.”
Time to Return to Work
The UK reintroduced its Plan B on Dec. 15 of last year. As of then, face coverings were required to enter most indoor venues. Vaccine passports were necessary for those wanting to visit nightclubs or large-capacity destinations.
Working from home was recommended, but not obligatory, under Plan B. Now, millions of people will be able to return to work.
Self-quarantine following a positive COVID-19 test remains in place. This requirement isn’t set to expire until March 24 but could be moved up if positive cases continue to drop.
UK casinos had to deal with Plan B protocols like other businesses. For the past two years, they have suffered hardships that could now begin healing. While casinos have been operational, a large number of betting shops temporarily closed their doors throughout the pandemic.
For fiscal year 2019, the UK’s gross gambling yield was £14.12 billion (US$19.24 billion). This dropped to just £5.89 billion (US$8 billion) in 2020.
Now that restrictions are being lifted, gamblers can return to their favorite venues. Many had reportedly sought casinos outside of the UK. As Las Vegas removed restrictions, with the UK’s still in place, UK travel to Sin City surged. Former Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox said last September that the number of UK gamblers had gone from “effectively zero to hundreds every day.”
Omicron Threat Diminishes
The omicron variant appears to be under control in the UK. Overall COVID-19 statistics for the country indicate that the seven-day average of new cases has dropped steadily since the beginning of the year. Over the past week, the figure is down 37%.
The UK’s daily infections are still high, but they are decreasing. Wednesday saw the country register 108,069 new cases.
Hospital admissions are also decreasing. However, there is a delay between people getting the virus and becoming severely ill. Therefore, deaths continue to rise and are up 14.7% over last week.
Over 36 million boosters have been distributed in the UK to date. Coupled with a smart approach to social and public interaction, the country is optimistic that it is now in a better place.
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