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Players snookered by June reopening

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By Euan Maxwell
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Players snookered by June reopening

POOL and snooker players in the region have been left baffled by a decision taken by the Government to not reopen venues until the country enters level one Covid restrictions in June.

From Monday, hospitality, retail and gyms will be permitted to open their doors to the public following months of closure.

This will be followed by most entertainment venues including bingo halls, cinemas, amusement arcades and casinos upon entering level two on May 17.

Along with nightclubs, bowling alleys and adult entertainment venues, pool and snooker halls will open again “by 7 June”, according to the Scottish Government.

Lindsay Currie, league administrator of Dumfries and Galloway Seniors Snooker, called the move “absolutely silly”.

He said: “I can’t explain the Scottish Government’s logic and I don’t actually think that whoever makes the decisions in the Scottish Government really understands what snooker halls are actually like – they’re not dens of inequity with people smoking at the bar and getting drunk, it’s not like that any more. So I think they’ve got the wrong end of the stick here big style and I don’t think it’s fair. All the snooker halls that I’m aware of are fully compliant with the test and trace, the hygiene and everything else.”

Lindsay, who is also secretary of the Albert Club, one of two snooker halls in Dumfries, added players are “determined to get back and form some form of league again and start playing”.

He added: “We had to cancel the last two league games of the 2019/20 season which was last March, so it’s been 13 months since we’ve been able to play.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson has confirmed that any pool or snooker tables within hospitality venues reopening next week will not permitted for use until Scotland enters level one.

“It’s just absolutely silly,” Lindsay said. “And it’s not as if the snooker arrangements are any different to the arrangements in a bingo hall or amusement arcades or all these other places that are able to open. Snooker, for some reason, seems to have been singled out to be bad and can only be allowed to start up again at the last resort effectively.”

Meanwhile the game’s national governing body, Scottish Snooker, has pointed out that snooker “has only been available in Scotland for 44 days since last March”, calling it “unfair and unjust”.

It added in a recent statement: “Two people have 352 square feet of space to play a game – you cannot get more social distancing than this – surely this cannot be deemed anything other than safe! For the sake of our players’ mental wellbeing and access to the sport we need snooker to be classed with all other indoor non-contact sports and able to open.”

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