Customers return to betting shops with firms encouraged by trade and interest
An "encouraging" first day of trading was reported by William Hill, as they, along with all other high street bookmakers in England, welcomed back customers for the first time since March.
While customers were able to get inside their local shop, having been unable to do so for months, a very different scene greeted them, with a raft of new social distancing guidelines.
Limits on maximum occupancy and changes to even the simple action of placing a bet are all part of the new normal for customers, but the new procedures were reported to have been well adhered to.
Ladbrokes Coral PR director Simon Clare said: “It’s early days but we have already had some really encouraging feedback from our shop teams, indicating that the new procedures and measures are working well in practice, and we are seeing plenty of our regular customers returning saying they’ve missed us.
"Our shop teams are reporting that our customers are doing their bit, adhering to the social distancing measures and, where necessary, queueing outside the shop.
“It has been helpful to have today to get used to the new measures and processes, because with Royal Ascot starting tomorrow and then Premier League football back from Wednesday, our shops are going to see increased footfall as the week progresses.
“We look forward to seeing more of our regular customers back in our shops over the next few days, and would just ask them to play their part and adhere to the social distancing guidelines and keep themselves and our colleagues safe."
A similar bulletin was issued by William Hill, with many customers reported to have embraced the new call over service, which removes the requirement of writing out a betting slip.
The firm's UK operations director, Steven White, said: “It has been an encouraging first day’s trading, we have high hopes for the week ahead with Royal Ascot and the return of Premier League football."
'I've had to have screens put up between each machine'
In a scene replicated up and down the country on Monday morning, the Coral shop in Yeadon near Leeds – whose high street had been firmly shut bar the supermarket and butcher since March – unlocked its door at 8.30am.
The moment when Coral’s betting shop in Yeadon opened for the first time since March pic.twitter.com/d2cdzF24Wm— David Carr (@wikiwikiwheels) June 15, 2020
Louise Masters, who has been in charge for 11 years and is a previous semi-finalist in the Racing Post Betting Shop Manager Of The Year competition, and her staff had a fortnight to make the premises ready for the challenges of welcoming customers in a time of Covid-19.
"I've had to have screens put up between each machine, I've had sanitisers put in and done everything to ensure everyone is keeping a two-metre distance," said Masters.
"And the staff are fully trained on safe operating procedures – they've all completed training before returning to work."
At busy times, punters will have to accept they may not be able to enter the shop.
"We've all been given a maximum occupancy and ours is eight but that's only if there's one person on each machine, one person on each table, one at the football zone and one at the Racing Post zone," said Masters.
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