Canadian Provinces Start Restricting Casinos Amidst COVID-19 Increase
Several provinces in Canada are now enacting new safety and health restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue, including changes for casinos.
COVID-19 seems to be hanging on and never going away. We see new variants pop up all the time and this causes a new wave of infections affecting countries around the globe. In Canada, the cases have increased exponentially, causing casino operators to enact new restrictions based on government decisions. Quebec recently shut down casino gaming completely while other provinces have decided to enact restrictions to try and keep people safe.
An Increase in COVID Cases
On Tuesday, over 11,000 cases of the virus were reported across Canada. The majority of those were from Ontario and Quebec. Now, there are almost 73,000 cases and the death toll is more than 30,000 people. Because of the increase, gambling venues have needed to make certain changes depending on the location. There are 114 casinos in the country along with bingo halls and community gaming centers. There are employees to consider as well as patrons.
Quebec immediately closed its gaming venues on Monday, trying to stop the spread of the virus through high touch points of the facilities. The decision was made just a few days after the Casino du Lac-Leamy in Gatineau was subject to a COVID outbreak.
In Ontario, the government has decided that casinos in the province must reduce capacity to 50%. No one is allowed to drink or eat anything on the casino gaming floor. On-site restaurants remain open, but they must also offer half the capacity. Anyone visiting the casinos in this province must wear a face covering. The only people allowed to enter the casinos are those who had received both doses of the vaccination.
Alberta officials decided to implement new measures starting December 24. Casinos are cut back to 50% and limitations will be set for drinks and food. Patrons must wear a mask upon entering the casino and show proof of vaccination.
Additional Province Changes
Other provinces have also decided to enact restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. In British Columbia, Premier John Horgan decided that casinos will remain open. However, operations must be limited to 50% capacity. Patrons must have all vaccination shots and wear a mask, or they will not be allowed inside.
Nova Scotia is also operating at 50% capacity with gaming and dining shutting off at 11 pm. The venue then close at midnight. Vacation is also required here along with masks. New Brunswick will cut to 50% by December 27 and the province will enter Level 2 of restrictions. Manitoba casinos are also operating at the 50% rate. Vaccination and masks are required.
It is unclear if these restrictions will be determinantal to the operations of the venues. In the United States, both mask wearing and vaccination are still a hot topic of debate. Just over 72% of the population are vaccinated at least with one shot. However, the remaining 30% is still a large collection of individuals.
If casinos required vaccination, we might see more people take the shot in the US, or it could cut down on the number of people traveling to such venues, which would hurt the casinos bottom line.
It will be interesting to see how the Canadian casinos fare with its restrictions that include vaccination and masking. Are the people of Canada different than in the US? We also may soon see such restrictions again in the US if the Omicron variant continues to spread rapidly as it seemingly is already active in the nation.