At long last
More than three months after closing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlantic City casinos finally have a reopening date: July 2. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced the date on Twitter Monday afternoon.
Murphy minced no words, saying, “If any visitor refuses to comply with our simple safeguards, they’ll be escorted out,” adding that he will not have patience for “knuckleheads” who decide they don’t need to play by the rules.
The safeguards mentioned will be published within the next few days. One rule we do know about right now is that casinos will only be permitted to welcome guests up to 25 percent of their maximum capacity. The same goes for restaurants, who will be allowed to reopen their indoor dining rooms. Restaurants were given the green light to open outdoor dining areas on June 15.
Hard Rock feeling confident
Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, expressed his excitement about the announcement, telling the Press of Atlantic City: “I’m extremely excited to welcome back our guests and team members and thankful to the governor to allow us to open prior to the big July 4 holiday weekend.”
Regardless of what health and safety measures are mandated by regulators, Lupo is confident that his casino will not only meet them, but surpass them. He said that everyone in the casinos, both employees and guests, will be required to wear protective face masks. Lupo also boasted that Hard Rock’s air filtration system is better than that of most hospitals.
And while many people nowadays don’t love being tracked by loyalty programs, Lupo added that the Hard Rock’s player database should be able to assist in contact tracing if someone does contract COVID-19.
“With 85% of our customers being rated, we can provide details on when the played, for how long, which beverage servers were in the vicinity, which room they stayed in, where they ate,” he said.
State showing great improvement
New Jersey, largely because of its population numbers, population density, and proximity to New York City, has been one of the hardest-hit states by COVID-19 during the ongoing pandemic. As of Monday’s reporting, the Garden State has had 172,394 confirmed cases of the virus and 13,031 deaths. The latter is the second-highest in the United States behind New York, while the former is now the third-highest, recently surpassed by California, which is experiencing a surge in cases.
The state has also been one of the best at “flattening the curve,” which is why Governor Murphy was able to announce a date for casino reopening. With some variance day-to-day, the state’s seven-day average of new cases has been steadily declining all month. Save a couple temporary rises, New Jersey’s curve has been on a precipitous decline since late April.
Atlantic County, where Atlantic City is located, is one of the counties in the state with the least number of cases, though the recent trend has been slightly upward.