After the initial plan to reinstate smoking on casino floors in Atlantic City yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy reversed the decision, and smoking is banned again. The decision is the result of concerns, outlining that smoking may accelerate the spread of COVID-19.
Atlantic City Casinos Are Now Smoke-Free Once Again
The saga concerning smoking in casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey continues. Yesterday, under Executive Order 183, casinos were allowed to resume smoking on the casino floors. However, on the same day that the order came into effect, Governor Phil Murphy reinstated the smoke ban for casinos. The Governor did not reveal how long this new ban will be in effect. With that move, he reversed a decision that was announced earlier this week.
At a press conference, Governor Murphy said: “I am also announcing… that we will take administrative action to prohibit smoking in indoor casinos.” He continued by saying: “We have looked closely at the science and agree with experts that have concluded that allowing smoking is too large a risk to take.“
Although the Atlantic County Division of Public Health outlined promising results about no newly reported deaths related to COVID-19 earlier this week, allowing smoking has raised concerns with health and safety experts as well as guests and employees of casinos. After yesterday’s announcement by the Governor, smoking in casinos is again prohibited. But casino patrons will be allowed to consume beverages when on the casinos’ floors.
State Senator Joseph Vitale Approves the Decision to Ban Smoking from Casinos
State Senator Joseph Vitale, chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee showed approval of Governor Murphy’s decision. He said: “As indoor dining is set to resume in a limited capacity, I appreciate the Governor’s ban on smoking inside casinos.” He added that he is pleased that the Governor acknowledged the science and listened to the people concerned that smoking may accelerate the spread of COVID-19.
“This was the right thing to do and safest decision for New Jerseyans,”concluded Senator Vitale
Democratic Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato also shared their approval of the Governor’s decision. Cited by the Press of Atlantic City, the assemblymen wrote in a statement: “As we work to combat the spread of a virus that’s easily transmissible through the air, temporarily banning smoking in casinos is the best decision for the safety of workers and patrons alike.” According to them, experts have noted that the filtering of clean air by casinos is a key to reducing the spread of COVID-19 indoors.
Indoor Dining Resumes as Planned
The Executive Order signed by Governor Murphy earlier this week also allowed the resumption of indoor dining as well as the reopening of other entertainment businesses. According to the order, indoor dining was allowed to resume yesterday at a 25% capacity cap. Other industries such as theaters and indoor performance venues were also allowed to resume operation at 25% limited capacity and up to 150 people max.
Indoor gatherings’ limits were also raised to 25% of capacity with a maximum of 150 people attending. Wearing masks remains mandatory when indoors with the only exception when guests or eating or drinking.
At the press conference yesterday, Governor Murphy reminded that the capacity limits which are in place and the Public Health protocols “are not kind suggestions”. The Governor stressed that those restrictions are mandated. He added that state officials will not tolerate any violations. Furthermore, Governor Murphy said that the welcoming of visitors must be done safely and according to the rules. The Governor added that both he and his office want to expand the restaurant capacities but this won’t be possible if restaurant owners are not following the rules.