Leisure bosses have criticised the Government's "appalling, last-minute" decision to delay the reopening of venues such as casinos and bowling alleys without providing scientific evidence to support it.

The sudden changes, meaning many indoor leisure venues across the UK could no longer reopen as expected on August 1, were announced by Boris Johnson last week.

Stephen Burns, CEO of the Hollywood Bowl Group bowling chain, who have a branch in Carlisle, said the news was "incredibly disappointing, unexpected and devastating for staff".

"There is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that bowling is less safe than other activities which have been allowed to reopen and remain open.

"We have taken every possible precaution to make sure our customers can socially distance in our spacious centres with extensive hygiene protocols in place."

"To hear this news at the last minute is devastating for our team members and customers looking forward to returning."

Other businesses in the leisure sector also expressed frustration over the apparent lack of scientific evidence for keeping their doors shut.

Simon Thomas, founder and CEO of the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, central London, said that the "ludicrous" decision would have both a financial and emotional effect on the business.

"It's an appalling last-minute decision," he said.

"We're due to reopen in 12 hours and reopening a business like this is a complex process that takes weeks of preparation.

"We've taken over 450 staff off furlough the building is prepared, everything is stocked.

"The investment has been probably somewhere around half a million pounds just to get the building ready to go."

The six-floor Hippodrome Casino covers 80,000 square feet and employs 750 people to run its bars, restaurants and gaming floors.

"It's not just a case of turning the lights on," said Mr Thomas.

"The Hippodrome is the largest entertainment venue in the West End in London, it's enormous and now putting it on hold, similarly costs a huge amount."

Mr Thomas said that the casino was "burning £1 million a month" while closed, adding that there would be a large emotional reaction to the news.

"Many of my staff have been off for months, they've been back retraining, cleaning, preparing for the last two weeks and bringing them back has given them an emotional boost," he said.

"The disappointment here is profound, and equally we've got thousands of customers all excited to be allowed to come back to a place they enjoy and are now very disappointed as well.

"I think in any case it's a ludicrous decision... there is zero evidence to suggest that casinos are higher risk than many of the sectors that have already reopened."