Tens of millions of Americans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving after a nearly unthinkable 2020 holiday that resulted in most staying put at home. For those who are thinking about stopping at a casino during their 2021 travels, they should be sure to carry a mask along.
COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the United States. The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases has surged from 11,000 in June to 95,481 over the past week.
Health officials are telling Americans that they can still enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with their extended family and friends, so long as they take precautions. That includes getting vaccinated and wearing face masks when inside public places.
Is there the potential for some spread? Of course there is,” Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said this week. “Are the people who are vaccinated, even if they haven’t gotten a booster, likely to end up in the hospital or die? They’re really not.”
The concern is with unvaccinated people, some health experts say. That’s even though vaccinated people have been known to acquire a so-called “breakthrough” case. That’s why many businesses that accommodate large numbers of people indoors are taking proactive measures, specifically mandating face coverings. Casinos, both commercial and tribal, are self-imposing mask-wearing across the country.
No Mask, No Service
Detroit’s three commercial casinos — MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity, and Greektown — reimplemented mandatory face masks this week for workers and guests. The mandate applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. The city resorts joined the many tribal casinos in Michigan that have also brought back mask directives for workers and patrons.
The decision was a result of the Michigan Department of Health recommending — but not ordering — that such businesses require face coverings this holiday season.
The Seneca Nation in Upstate New York – which, being a federally recognized tribe, doesn’t need to adhere to state orders — nonetheless is requiring face coverings for guests regardless of vaccination status at its thee casinos.
“Our highest priority remains the health, safety, and enjoyment of our guests and our team members,” said Seneca Gaming President & CEO Kevin Nephew. “While we have maintained a strict adherence to COVID-related protocols at our three properties, the recent trends throughout Western New York are concerning.
Requiring the use of face masks is the right step to ensure that our properties remain safe, enjoyable environments for all,” Nephew added.
Other casinos that have reintroduced required masks include the Seven Clans and Fortune Bay casinos in Minnesota. The Yaamava Resort & Casino at San Manuel in California is also on board. Masks also remain mandatory — though sparsely enforced — inside Las Vegas casinos.
Atlantic City casinos are not currently requiring face masks. While the resorts are recommending unvaccinated people wear them, few are.
Many casinos are not advertising that indoor masks are needed for guests, but are indeed requiring them. Casino.org recommends calling the casino before arriving to learn whether masks are required for entry.
With AAA forecasting that 54.3 million people in the US will be on the road or friendly skies this Thanksgiving weekend, more casinos could require face masks, should new COVID-19 cases rise because of the mass travel.
About 37 percent of US residents aged five and older remain unvaccinated, the CDC reports. The CDC adds that unvaccinated people who contract COVID-19 are 11 times likelier to die from respiratory disease.
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