Ontario Casinos to Close as New COVID-19 Lockdown Emerges

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Casino employees in Ontario, Canada have experience with lockdowns, although they probably wish they didn’t. They’re about to go through another one, as the province looks to prevent COVID-19 from taking over. Hundreds of workers could be affected by the closures.

Ontario Back on Lockdown

Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement yesterday that the province will be bringing back “Step 2” of its reopening plan. This move has a negative impact on indoor spaces like restaurants and gyms. It will also cause Casino Rama and all other casinos across the province to close down for three weeks.

Gateway Casinos and Entertainment, the owner of Casino Rama and other casinos, sent an email to its staff today announcing the impending closure. The memo states, “In response to the Ontario provincial government announcing a modified Step 2, all of our Ontario operations will be temporarily suspended effective Wednesday, Jan. 5 at 12:01 a.m.

“The health and safety of all employees, customers, and the community [remain] the highest priority at Gateway, and we will continue to work with local and provincial governments; public health authorities, and regulators to collaboratively prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Employees who may be affected by the change are noted in the memo. They will be contacted about it in the coming days.

Ontario Follows Quebec’s Closure

Only a few days before Christmas, Quebec went on lockdown. The province has reported 15,845 COVID-19 new cases and 13 deaths related to the virus. According to the Quebec Health Department, the number of hospitalizations due to the disease jumped by 70% to 1,231. It reported that 162 people are currently in intensive care. This is an increase of nine.

According to hospital networks, 783 healthcare workers are currently in isolation. This is in addition to 600 nurses who were absent from the workforce prior to the fifth wave of the pandemic.

In remote areas, where there is limited health care, the strain created by an increasing number of cases can be worse.

Repeated Lockdowns Take Their Toll

In December 2020, casinos in Ontario shut down because of COVID-19. That was after venues had been closed in March of that year before being allowed to slowly reopen in July. However, they were operating at reduced capacities for months.

Things began to return to normal in July of last year when casinos reopened once again. They enjoyed six months of operations – at reduced capacities – before, once again, being forced back into lockdown.

Although the new protocols are meant to be in place for three weeks, the shutdown could be extended if the spread of COVID-19 continues.

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