In an unprecedented move to combat the spread of the Coronavirus, land-based casinos and betting shops will be forced to close their doors with immediate effect for a period of two weeks, pending further review, the UK government has announced.
The news comes as the Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the UK was escalating efforts to reduce the spread of Covid-19, implementing a lockdown across large parts of the entertainment industry.
Speaking alongside the PM, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a number of substantial economic measures in a bid to ensure stability and safeguard jobs during the crisis.
The Chancellor said the government will offer grants covering up to 80 per cent of the salary of workers that remain employed by companies, up to a total of £2,500 per month.
He stated: “Today I can announce for the first time in our history the government is going to step in and pay people’s wages.
“The actions I’ve taken today represent an unprecedented economic intervention to support the jobs and incomes of the British people. Unprecedented measures for unprecedented times.”
He added: “I know that people are worried about losing their jobs, about not being able to pay the rent or mortgage, about not having enough set by for food and bills,” he said.
“I know that some people in the last few days have already lost their jobs. To all those at home right now, anxious about the days ahead, I say this: you will not face this alone.
“I know it’s incredibly difficult out there. We in government are doing everything we can to support you.
“The government is doing its best to stand behind you and I’m asking you to do your best to stand behind our workers.”
Johnson added: “We will do everything in our power to help. Supporting you directly in a way that government has never done before, in addition to the package we have already set out for business.”
Earlier in the day, Paddy Power confirmed it had taken steps to close all its UK shops until the end of April, a statement from Flutter Entertainment, the parent company of Paddy Power, read: “In line with the spirit and letter of the latest social distancing guidelines from the government in the UK, we are closing all UK Paddy Power betting shops from tonight until the end of April, or beyond in line with government guidelines, to protect our retail employees and customers.
“There is nothing more important than the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues and the public during this pandemic. We have been following the situation very closely and believe this is in the best interest of our people and our customers, in order to keep them and their families safe during this time.”