On Wednesday, September 9, casinos statewide reopened for the first time since their initial closure in March. They are currently subject to 25 percent capacity limits as well as strict COVID-19 safety standards.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that New York state would be allowing casinos to reopen with an extended set of guidelines for both employees and patrons. Some new regulations include mandatory face coverings, social distancing practices, additional staff for occupancy control and intense cleaning measures to keep surfaces sanitized for incoming guests. The State Gaming Commission will be doing routine checks to enforce these new rules.
These phased openings of different industries have been seemingly successful over the past few months, with Cuomo praising the process that the state has developed in a press conference on September 3.
“New Yorkers have done an extraordinary job – we flattened the curve in a way that no expert thought was possible,” Cuomo said. “We’ve made the determination that we can safely reopen casinos with enhanced air filtration and strict safety protocols including mandatory masks and social distancing. This is good news and the right next step in our data-driven, phased reopening which is working.”
The Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady is taking some extraordinary precautions, such as closing between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. for deep cleaning the entire property, limiting the number of entrances and exits, adding extra employees for regular cleaning and sanitizing during open hours, and installing barriers and rearranging seats to force social distancing.
They also created a special area on the casino floor for patrons who are 55 and older.
“The Rivers team has been working hand-in-hand with the state to make all the changes necessary to reopen,” said Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady General Manager, Justin Moore. “The health and well-being of our team members, guests and the community is our highest priority.”
Other state officials are also pleased with the reopening plans. Sen. Jen Metzger, D-Rosendale, has been one of these advocates, pointing to the importance of the Resorts World Catskills casino to the area’s local economy.
“Resorts World Catskills is vital to the economy of Sullivan County, as a top employer and critical source of tax revenue for the Town of Thompson and Sullivan County government in this challenging time, and I’ve been advocating for many weeks now to enable the casino to safely open.” Metzger said. “I am confident that the casino has taken, and will continue to take, every precaution for the health and safety of guests and employees.”