As casinos across the country grapple with the current impact and immediate future of COVID-19, one Massachusetts casino has announced the precautions it will take upon reopening.
Encore Boston, which will remain closed until at least June 1, has revealed the steps it will take to protect employees and casino-goers from the risks presented by the coronavirus.
Relying on ‘the best available science’
Encore Boston, part of Wynn Resorts, revealed a “health & sanitation program” last week after consulting with public health medical professionals and officials with both Georgetown and Johns Hopkins universities.
“This plan presents what we will do to keep our guests, employees and our community safe. … It relies on the best available science on sanitization methods, in consultation with professional infectious disease experts from some of the best academic institutions in the country,” wrote Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox in the plan.
“We will continue to refine and update the plan as our experts provide us more advice.”
Maddox, who highlighted the company’s on-site testing facility, called for cooperation between state and local officials; an economy reopening as soon as “safety possible”; and increased testing velocity.
Thermal cameras, social distancing and PPE
To ensure the safety of customers and staff, Encore Boston is slated to take numerous approaches, including limited entrances that will include thermal cameras. Anyone with a temperature above 100.4 degrees will be taken to a private area, where they will receive a second temperature check.
If their temperature is still above the cutoff, they will not be allowed entry and will instead be directed to medical care.
The casino will also emphasize social distancing, helping enable the measure in what is usually a closely-packed environment by re-arranging restaurant tables, slot machines, table games and more. Plexiglass barrier shields will also be added.
Other approaches will include intermittent hand sanitizer stations; informational signage; COVID-19 training for employees; appropriate levels or personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff; and even elevator-button sanitization.
It’s a comprehensive plan casino operators hope will attract a potentially hesitant audience back to Wynn sites.
And while Maddox recognized the possibility that Wynn casinos could again be forced to close in the event of a second wave of virus infections, he also advocated for an initial restart of the economy.
“I understand that if we re-open incrementally, we might have to pull back, for example if a spike in cases occurs that jeopardizes the healthcare system capacity,” he noted.
“However, the only way to cross this river is one stone at a time and we need to begin soon.”
Two months of closure
The casino’s plan emerges nearly two months after Encore Boston closed on March 15, along with the state’s other two casinos, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino. CBS Boston reported that the casinos were expected to undergo a “deep clean” during the closure.
“Having a facility like this where there will be tens of thousands of people a day coming into this facility, in the crisis we’re in right now, we can’t allow people to keep coming into this facility,” Everett City Councilor Michael McLaughlin told the TV station at the time.
“We need to keep everyone safe, and I don’t think you can measure that in dollars.”
Maddox, meanwhile, noted in his comments Monday that Wynn Resorts decided to pay its 15,000 North American employees through May 15 – a sum that includes tip estimates – and will now extend that plan through May 31.
The company believes that approach costs $3 million per day, or $220 million by the end of May.