Call for change to guidelines
The owner of the Border Bingo Club in Galashiels says he is unable to welcome punters back despite the Scottish Government saying that such halls can reopen from Monday, August 24.
Unlike pubs and restaurants where one-metre distancing is in place, bingo halls need to comply with two-metre distancing in playing areas.
The club’s owner and director, Ryann Stisi, said this ruling makes it financially unviable.
He said: “While I welcome the announcement that bingo clubs across Scotland can reopen from Monday, I am disappointed that this decision is predicated on two-metre distancing being in place.
“This is a particularly confusing decision from the Scottish Government, given that restaurants, pubs and other hospitality venues are allowed to operate with one-metre social distancing, despite having less stringent Covid-19 safeguards in place than bingo clubs.
“I feel that decisions on social distancing in leisure venues have been based purely on economic priorities, and it is difficult to see this decision as anything other than the Scottish Government’s willingness to sacrifice the long-term survival of bingo clubs in favour of other parts of the hospitality sector.
“This decision means that Pavilion Bingo Club will not be able to reopen for the time being, as it is simply not commercially viable for us to operate at the capacity required to comply with two-metre distancing.
“Border Bingo Club would like to thank all our customers for their continued patience and support at this time.”
Borders MP John Lamont has written to the Scottish Government to see if it will review the guidance.
He told us: “It is very welcome that bingo halls and other similar leisure businesses can reopen.
“However, it is clear that the two-metre social distancing rules will present significant challenges.
“This will mean that the Border Bingo Club will be unable to reopen as they will not be able to welcome back enough customers to keep their business running.
“I know that this will be of huge concern to their staff and customers.
“This company serves the local community well by providing free transport across the Borders so that anyone can come and play.
“It is important that they can get back up and running soon.”