As England is plunged into a third national lockdown, betting shops across the country have been forced to close their doors again.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that all shops, other than essential businesses, will stay shut for over a month.

Multiple parts of England were already in Tier 4, which had been the highest local lockdown level.

England joins Scotland in a national lockdown, with business north of the border also forced to close until further notice.

New coronavirus strain causing concern

Retail betting shops in Tier 3 parts of England had previously been allowed to operate following the end of the recent, second national lockdown. However, these must now also shut their doors.

Ministers are particularly worried about a new strain of COVID-19, first identified in the UK, that has since spread to other parts of the world. Cases have been recorded in India, among many other countries.

When he announced the lockdown, Johnson said he believed that the “hardest” weeks were still to come. However, he also believes that the UK is “entering the last phase of the struggle”.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, also expressed her concerns, saying that she was “more concerned [with the] situation we face now compared to last March”.

Elite-level sports to continue

Unlike the first lockdown between March and July 2020, and as was the case in the second lockdown, top-level sports in England will continue as before. The Premier League is almost at its halfway stage of the season, while rugby and horse racing are among the other sports that will carry on.

The British Horse Racing Association has already announced that events will continue to be held without spectators in place. It’s also highly likely that this year’s Cheltenham Festival will go on with either few or no attendees.

Course Boss Ian Renton had the following to say about this year’s event:

“We’ve accepted that it is going to be a different festival this year to normal. We have to be realistic that it is likely only small numbers of people will be present.

“Let’s see where we are by March but the team is focused on setting the stage for four world-class days of racing, which are vital to many livelihoods in the British racing industry and will hopefully be enjoyed by many millions of people on television.”

COVID-19 vaccine starting to roll out

According to a report by the BBC, the British government has said that over one million people in the country have been administered a COVID-19 vaccine jab.

Ministers hope that all people aged 70 and above will be vaccinated by next month, as well as ‘front-line health and care workers’.