Bosses at a Johnstone bingo hall are calling foul on the Scottish Government for keeping players in the dark over when the game can resume.

Richard Laciok, who runs Globe Bingo, said hundreds of players are eagerly awaiting a return to the town centre hall but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has given no clear guidance yet on when this can happen.

He told The Gazette: “I cannot understand why we have to stay closed while other leisure facilities such as pubs and restaurants close to us in Johnstone High Street have returned to business.

“We have risk assessed the premises and gone to great lengths to prepare the hall by introducing screens, temperature checks, PPE and reduced capacity.

“I believe that by putting these measures in place we have created one of the safest environments for our customers.

“Our customers are eager to get back and it’s very frustrating because we believe we have safer facilities than other places in Renfrewshire.”

Richard says he believes civil servants at Holyrood are holding back on the reopening decision because they have a misconception that most bingo players are elderly and, therefore, more at risk from Covid- 19.

However, only 22 per cent of his members are aged over 65, while the largest number – 29 per cent – are in the 18 to 35 age group.

He added: “The building here is large, with a seating capacity of 700.

“On a busy session we are getting around 170 through the doors and on quiet day we can expect about 50, so space is not an issue and neither is tracing as all our players have membership cards which they swipe on arrival, so we know exactly who has been in and when.

“This is also having a financial impact as we are still having to pay for insurance, utilities such as gas and electricity and phone lines.”

Richard is backing Scotland-wide moves by the Bingo Association which is launching a campaign today to raise awareness of concerns in the sector caused by lack of clarity.

However, he is hoping for more information tomorrow when Ms Sturgeon gives an update to parliament.

A Scottish Government spokesperson told The Gazette: “As the First Minister has said, we want to lift restrictions as soon as possible so that these businesses can get back to trading and we fully understand how difficult any further delay might be. 

“We also know the importance parents, children and businesses place on seeing schools reopen in August.

“It is important these decisions are made carefully to protect people’s health and our progress against the pandemic. 

“We will continue to review the data for new cases and hospital admissions and the First Minister will provide an update to parliament on the remaining phase three changes on Thursday.”

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