Commercial casinos in Massachusetts are finally going to return to normal. Other states around the country have begun to lift COVID-19 restrictions and the three commercial casinos in Massachusetts will be joining them this weekend. This is, hopefully, another sign that the global coronavirus pandemic continues to be beaten down and, ultimately, defeated.
Massachusetts Casinos Back in Business
From Nevada to New York, casinos have been given the green light to remove COVID-19 health guidelines. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) met yesterday and added the state to the list, unanimously approving the return of pre-pandemic gambling in a 4-0 vote. As of this Saturday at 12:01 AM, Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park Casino will no longer have to require patrons to wear face masks, practice social distancing guidelines or limit their capacities.
The move follows an announcement by the state’s governor, Charlie Baker, that COVID-19 restrictions would be listed as of this Saturday. The MGC, however, still had control of the casinos’ fate. The casinos now retake control and will be able to determine whether any amenities, such as bars and restaurants, should be reopened and when. It’s highly likely that most of the amenities will be reopened quickly, provided they meet certain health and sanitation protocols.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced recently that it was now safe for COVID-19 restrictions to be removed, leading to the decision by governors in several states, including Massachusetts, to respond quickly. However, certain precautions are going to be kept in place, such as the presence of a safety officer at Massachusetts’ casinos, as well as strict COVID-19 reporting guidelines in the event any new cases are found. At the casinos’ amenities, cleanliness and safety will remain at the forefront of operations for now as COVID-19 continues to be eradicated.
Massachusetts Continues to Heal
As has been the case in other states, face masks won’t be required for casino guests or employees, as long as they have received the COVID-19 vaccine. They’ll be mandatory for those who haven’t received the shot, but executives at the three commercial casinos have acknowledged that they aren’t going to ask for proof of vaccination – they will trust individuals to be honest about their status.
Similar programs have been implemented at casinos elsewhere in the country, while others have provided incentives to encourage vaccinations. To date, the number of cases continues to decline across the country, falling from a high of 208,309 new cases on January 10 to just 23,604 as of yesterday. The CDC reports that 61.8% of US adults have received at least one vaccination.
The lifting of restrictions in Massachusetts should lead to a better-than-average improvement in June. The state’s commercial casinos reported $84 million in revenue for March, following that with $85 million in April. May is certain to be better but, as capacity restrictions were still in place, not as much as what should be seen in June’s figures, spurred by no restrictions and the summer weather.