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A bingo chain has announced the permanent closure of 26 sites, putting 573 jobs at risk. Nottingham-based Buzz Bingo said it had taken the decision due to an “unsustainable operating environment for the foreseeable future”.

Its remaining 91 halls will continue to trade when they reopen from 6 August.

Chief executive Chris Matthews said a restructure would ensure those clubs were able to adapt to new safety measures and lower customer numbers.

Buzz Bingo closed its sites on March 21 due to the Government-mandated lockdown and furloughed the majority of its staff.

The company, which employs about 3,400 people, said it would “take time” for footfall at sites to reach pre-virus levels due to social distancing measures and weaker customer confidence.

Mr Matthews said: “The ongoing pandemic has had far-reaching consequences for the entire leisure and hospitality sector and an immediate and significant impact on our business.”

A restructure of its retail portfolio is planned “to ensure we are well positioned for a return to growth, while adapting to the ongoing, challenging environment as we start to reopen the majority of our clubs”, he added.

Buzz Bingo halls formerly operated as Gala Bingo clubs, while the Gala brand continues to operate online.

The Buzz Bingo online business will continue to trade as usual.

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation (BPF), said: “These situations are never easy, particularly now for the retail, hospitality and leisure businesses on our high streets at the sharp end of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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