Bacta has this week unveiled its plans for re-opening the industry and keeping customers, staff and businesses safe.
The report entitled ‘Returning the FUN to Britain’s High Streets and Seaside Towns – A plan to get the amusement machine sector back to work,’ has been distributed to Government, associated trade bodies in the leisure sector and the press.
It reveals that with operating costs are still up to 55% of normal – despite the fact that there is no income during lockdown. Bacta also points out that the supply chain is not protected by current Government support offered to public-facing businesses. Even those who do get rates relief and grants find the latter capped at £51,000 – which is insufficient for many – for example larger seafront arcade premises. In addition, the seasonal nature of the industry means that amusements are worse hit than many other UK businesses.
Bacta is asking for the following support from the Government in order for the sector to survive:
- Continuation of the Job Retention Scheme for the duration of business closures and maybe beyond for seasonal businesses
- 100% rates relief for 2020/2021 including supply chain and continued into 2022
- Tapered increase in grants for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000
- Deferral of indirect tax payments until Summer 2021 including PAYE, VAT and MGD
- Premises licence rebates from Local Councils and rebates from Gambling Commission
“We believe this will be relatively inexpensive support for our industry from a Government perspective, possibly within the tens of millions. Pre-COVID-19 our sector generated over £1.6 billion in revenue and contributed £2bn to the UK economy, supporting over 34,000 employees,” says bacta CEO John White. “We also call for an additional late Summer/Autumn Bank Holiday to make up for the ones our members missed around Easter and Whitsun.”
Following discussions with bacta members, the following measures to allow responsible operation of premises have been proposed:
In Family Entertainment Centres:
- Clear signage demonstrating and recommending social distancing
- Hand sanitiser provided for customers
- Rearranging machines to create greater distancing or separating via plexiglass and limiting players on multiplayer machines
- Staffed entrance and exit points and limiting of customer numbers
- Screened redemption counters
- Staff to be fully trained and prepared, to wear PPE and to clean machines more regularly
“The amusement machine industry in whatever guise, wants to help get the country’s economy up and running again. Not all businesses will make it through the crisis and into next year. With the right support most will, battered and bruised maybe, but nevertheless willing to get back to business. The industry will nevertheless do all it can to ensure that it plays its part in controlling the potential threat of Covid-19 by changing the way it operates,” adds John White.
“Finally, it is important that decisions on re-opening by Government are made as early as possible. Businesses will need as a minimum two-weeks to prepare.”