South Mississippi Casinos Add Face Masks as COVID-19 Expands

As COVID-19 cases in South Mississippi, just like in other parts of the US, rise again, casinos in this region have started mandating their employees to wear masks. Palace Casino and the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino are among the latest gambling facilities to instruct staff members to protect themselves by wearing masks, while Scarlet Pearl has gone a step further and requires vaccinations.

COVID-19 Returns Across the US

Businesses in Mississippi are adamant about wearing protective equipment or getting vaccinated, with COVID-19 cases in South Mississippi on a six-month high. On Thursday, the Beau Rivage stated that the mask policy for its employees at Beau Rivage and Gold Strike has been updated by MGM Resorts International and, effective the same day, employees are now required to wear masks while working, regardless of if they are vaccinated or not.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also commented on the latest spike in cases. It states that, when indoors, both employees and guests should wear masks to protect themselves. The recommendation is supported by MGM, which has taken similar measures at its casinos in other states. Spokeswoman Mary Cracchiolo-Spain stated that MGM properties are vigilant in following health and safety protocols and masks are available for the guests.

While the CDC recommends that masks should be worn indoors, the Mississippi Gaming Commission has not ordered employees and casinos guests to wear them. Moreover, mask requirements for schools and businesses are not in effect, as Governor Tate Reeves hasn’t given any updates.

Casino Managers Chose to Mandate Masks

Even though there are no specific orders or guidelines on whether masks should be worn at casinos, some managers have decided to mandate them. Palace Casino’s general manager in Biloxi, Keith Crosby, stated on Thursday that the only employees that are not required to wear masks are those that work outside. Treasure Bay Casino has come up with a unique plan to tackle the COVID-19 threat at its property. All non-vaccinated employees are required to wear masks, whereas all vaccinated employees that submit their vaccination cards will participate in daily drawings in August, which have a $500 reward.

Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Iberville’s CEO, LuAnn Pappas, stated that the mask requirements for all employees were in effect since last Friday. Additionally, she said that the salaried employees have until August 14 to get their first vaccine. Requiring casino employees to be vaccinated has been a common tool used by casinos. Back in April, Nevada casinos were facing the same problem, as most of these facilities were closed until a majority of the casino employees got vaccinated.

While the directive at Scarlet Pearl Casino only addressed staff on salary, Pappas stated that the casino will narrow it down if it’s needed. When this new policy was announced, Pappas shared that on the same day, the number of people signed up for vaccination was 57. Furthermore, since the vaccination van by the Memorial Hospital comes to the facility, employees do not have to leave their workspace.

Cash rewards are also in store for staff members. Pappas stated that employees will receive $150 after the first shot and $399 when they receive the second shot. However, she explained that, since Moderna and Pfizer require two shots, some employees opt for the Johnson & Johnson alternative, which is just a single shot.

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