A Bolton casino was forced to shut hours after reopening following the government’s U-turn over lockdown in the town.
Grosvenor Casino, in Ormrod Street, opened at midday on Wednesday when it was believed the town had been released from the Greater Manchester-wide measures.
But just minutes after they welcomed customers for the first time in months, the government rowed back on last week’s decision to lift Bolton’s lockdown restrictions and allow casinos to open.
Bosses at the town centre venue were left in limbo and say they sought ‘urgent clarification’ on what to do.
The casino was still open when police attended at about 8pm on Wednesday evening and advised that it needed to close.
The casino denies deliberately breaking the rules and says it ‘went to every length’ to alert the government to the situation it found itself in.
A spokesperson for Grosvenor Casino said: “We opened our Grosvenor Casino in Bolton at noon on Wednesday in line with the government advice secured the previous Friday evening.
“Subsequent to having reopened, we learned of the government’s U-turn to reinforce lockdown and, having already opened our venue, we immediately contacted DCMS, via our trade body the Betting & Gaming Council, to seek urgent clarification of what the decision meant for businesses, like ours, that had already reopened.
“It was not until after 8pm that we received confirmation from government that our venue would have to close, and this coincided with a cordial visit from the police, to the casino, who advised us of the need to close.
“We complied with that instruction immediately.
“Any suggestion that we were deliberately in breach of government advice is wholly inaccurate and we went to every length to alert government to our status of having already reopened, and we sought clarity from government as swiftly as we could.
“The health and safety of our colleagues and customers is our primary concern and we strongly reject any suggestion to the contrary.”
Last week, the government announced its intention to remove the extra restrictions so that Bolton – and Trafford – could follow Wigan out of the Greater Manchester lockdown.
It meant business such as casinos, bowling alleys, roller rinks and soft play centres would be allowed to reopen from Wednesday.
Since then, there has been a huge spike in the number of cases in the town.
The borough now has the highest rate of infection in the country, at 76.51 per 100,000 people as of August 31.
There have been 220 positive tests recorded in the last seven days, a sharp increase of 340 per cent from the week before.
In light of the surge in positive tests, Bolton’s leaders called on Health Secretary Matt Hancock to reconsider the decision to ease lockdown measures.
When Mr Hancock failed to publicly respond to the pleas by Wednesday morning, many believed the changes had come into effect.
But, shortly after 12.10pm on Wednesday, Mr Hancock announced that Bolton and Trafford would remain under lockdown.
Later that evening, a post went out on the Grosvenor Casino’s Facebook page declaring the Bolton venue open.
A further post has since been issued stating that the site will remain ‘temporarily closed’ in line with government guidance.
The casino will remain shut, along with Grosvenor’s other sites in Manchester and Salford.
Greater Manchester Police have been approached for comment.