COVID-19 Mask Mandates Return as Cases Increase
As positive COVID-19 cases increase across the United States, casinos are bringing mask mandates back for public safety.
This Thanksgiving weekend is a busy one in the United States. Millions of Americans are traveling to see loved ones this year after the disaster of 2020 and it has led some businesses to bring back mask mandates, including casino facilities. As more people are out and about, it is unfortunately leading to an increase in COVID-19 positive cases. Operators are taking precautionary measures in several states and requiring employees and visitors to wear masks once again.
Prepare for Mask Wearing
In general, it is recommended that travelers be prepared to wear a mask inside any business they visit, especially casinos. Health officials are telling Americans that they can still enjoy the holiday but remain safe by taking precautions. In public places like casinos, individuals are encouraged to wear a mask and get vaccinated.
There is potential for the virus to spread as people visit with family and friends, regardless of vaccination status. Businesses like casinos that cater to large groups of people are taking precautions by asking visitors and employees to wear masks despite vaccination status.
Across the country, tribal operators as well as commercial casinos are adding this requirement. One of the latest to do so is the Seneca Nation in New York. The tribe operates on sovereign land, so they are not required to follow state regulations. However, the operator is requiring masks at all three of its casinos.
Kevin Nephew, the CEO and President of Seneca Gaming, stated that the highest priority of the tribe is to ensure the health, safety, and enjoyment of guests and team members. The recent trend of COVID-19 cases in the western portion of New York state has the tribe concerned and led to the decision for mask wearing.
Just before the Seneca Nation announcement, the commercial casinos in Detroit announced that face masks were mandatory once again. This includes Greektown, MGM Grand Detroit, and MotorCity Casino. Tribal casinos in Michigan have also decided to bring back masks for player and employee safety.
Staying Safe in a High Traffic Environment
Casinos have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 virus, from shutdowns and limited re-openings, to lack of employees due to sickness or refusal to work. Casinos are generally a high traffic environment. Players are use cards and chips that are handled by others as well as high touch points like slot machines and ATMs.
To combat any potential outbreak, casinos across the United States have implemented protocols for cleaning high touch point areas. In the beginning, when casinos reopened at limited capacity, cleaning was taking place within short intervals, like 15 to 20 minutes.
By cleaning machines as often as possible, it was expected that it would cut down on positive cases occurring within a casino. Cleaning schedules along with social distancing and mask wearing has proven an effective way to lower outbreaks and avoid any need for closure.
It is recommended that patrons visiting casinos in the US wear a mask, despite vaccination status, when in large groups of people. Hands should be washed frequently, and all precautions taken to avoid spreading or contracting the virus.
It is too early to know right now since the casinos just started reimplementing mask protocols if the change will result in fewer visitors or a decrease in revenues. Many US residents are tired of mask wearing and may choose to avoid visiting a casino, so they do not have to put on a mask. We shall see in the coming weeks if more casinos make this decision and how it affects operations including the bottom line.