Operating at 50 percent capacity and with safety measures based on guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) in place, Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono reopened on Monday, June 22 after being shut down for over three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Visitors to the casino will now see acrylic partitions at card tables, roulette dealers wearing face shields and nearly 100 hand sanitizer stations throughout the property. And with the exception of drinking, eating and smoking, guests and employees will be required to wear face masks at all times.
According to the Pocono Record newspaper, Vice President of Marketing for the Monroe County property, Glenn Cademartori, said that the new protocols based on CDC and PGCB guidelines also include the addition of social distancing floor decals along with posters and digital signage.
“For the slots, in particular, we’ve taken away every other chair and turned off every other machine. At the tables, we’ve taken away every other chair so you’re limited three to a blackjack, and lastly, we’ve put up shields between the slot machines and table games as well to keep people safe,” Cademartori added.
Operating capacity and suspended services:
As with other Pennsylvania casinos, Mount Airy Casino is operating at 50 percent capacity, approximately 1,600 people, and for now, shuttle bus service is prohibited and all live entertainment scheduled for spring and summer has been put on the backburner until 2021.
“Our policy is first come, first serve. We monitor attendance electronically at both entrances and they are synced real-time so if we ever get to that 50% capacity limit, then we will hold the egress and the ingress — one in and one out — so we keep below that 50% capacity.
“Bus service has been suspended statewide. Currently we’re not accepting buses and large group travel, but when we do we have policies and procedures in place in order to handle that safely.”
Cademartori added that “All entertainment has been paused. Everything that was scheduled for spring and summer has been rescheduled to next year. The first concert we have scheduled is on Oct. 9, right now. Our limit is 250 people for a large gathering and if that number is raised by October, we’ll have a concert. If it’s not we’ll continue to postpone.”
Grab-and go replaces buffet:
As far as dining is concerned, Cademartori said that half of the tables in the restaurants have been removed to ensure the headcount remains under 50 percent. The property also no longer as a buffet, instead a new grab-and-go wait service concept called the Market will allow food to be prepared ahead of time so that guests will not be handling the food.
“We want to be able to provide the same experience that we had before we closed down, so that everyone is going to enjoy this five-star experience up here in the Poconos,” said Cademartori.
Other PA reopenings:
Since Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered a statewide shutdown to all nonessential businesses on March 17, 2020, so far, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh and Meadows Racetrack both reopened on June 9th, as the pair of casinos are located in counties (Allegheny and Washington) that entered the green phase of the governor’s three-phase reopening plan, while Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort began welcoming visitors again on June 12.
Meanwhile, Valley Forge Casino Resort and Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack plan to reopen Friday, according to PGCB spokesman Douglas Harbach. And, just in time for the 4th of July holiday, Wind Creek Bethlehem and the state’s highest-grossing casino, Parx Casino in Bensalem, are slated to reopen on June 29, as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer.
There is still no date set for Rivers Casino Philadelphia to resume operations, with city officials opting instead for a delayed reopening while maintaining some restrictions until July 3 or beyond, according to the Inquirer.
To the east, Atlantic Citys’s nine casinos will be able to reopen from July 2 at just 25 percent capacity, according to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s Monday announcement.
In more recent news for the iconic resort city, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa announced it will reopen to the general public at 10am July 6. Atlantic City’s top-grossing casino will, however, beginning July 2, host an invitation-only trial period, taking advantage of a state-authorized “friends and family” period that was part of Governor Murphy’s Monday announcement. The “soft opening” allows all nine of the Boardwalk city’s casinos the option, which enables them to assess new health and safety protocols, according to the Associated Press.