Adult Gaming Centres (AGCs) were one of the businesses due to reopen on 15 June as part of the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.
However, only a few days before the 15th, they were informed that they would not be allowed to reopen, despite spending a significant amount of money adjusting their premises to comply with the Government’s guidelines and un-furloughing their staff.
Multiple AGCs in Bolton South East contacted me about how this Government u-turn had hit their businesses hard and put their futures at risk, with the possibility of redundancies.
I wrote to the Prime Minister to highlight their plight and how damaging it is for businesses to be told to work towards opening on a certain date, only for the rug to be pulled from under them.
I have now received a reply from the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, Nigel Huddleston, which I have posted below.
The Minister has shirked the Government’s responsibility for the costs that AGCs incurred by preparing to reopen by saying that 15 June was just a “target” for reopening, not a guarantee. However, the Government must have known that businesses would work towards the targets that they set and incur costs as a result.
Based on the Government’s policy, the best thing that AGCs can do now is re-furlough their workers and wait for the Government to allow them to reopen, even though there is still no date for when they can reopen.
I understand the problems that this causes for AGCs, and their staff, who will worry that, even if a new date is given, the Government may not stick to it and it will be a repeat of what happened on 15 June.
The Government needs to approach the re-opening of the country in a steady, consistent way, without issuing contradictory, fast-changing policies that confuse and damage people and businesses. If they don’t do this, then we will see more businesses pay the price, like the AGCs did.
I can assure you that my colleagues and I will continue to raise the reopening of AGCs, and the rest of the country, with the Government, and advocate for this to be done in a safe, clear and consistent way.