At long last, Atlantic City casinos finally have a reopen date set by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. And that date — July 2 — comes just in time for the Fourth of July weekend.
New Jersey’s gambling establishments — all in Atlantic City — have been closed since mid-March due to COVID-19. The Garden State is one of the coronavirus hotspots in the United States with more than 172,000 confirmed cases and 13,000 deaths. Only neighboring New York (412,000 cases/31,000 deaths) and California (183,000 cases/5,500 deaths) have more infections.
But, the state’s Democratic governor says it’s time to bring the gamblers back to the nine Atlantic City casinos. He is, however, forcing the casinos to limit capacity in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Casinos will be limited to just 25% of their maximum capacity. That’s half the capacity of Nevada’s casinos, which reopened on June 4.
Other Restrictions Apply
The good news for gamblers in New Jersey is that they can finally return to the casino. After more than three months away, the limited capacity is better than nothing. Atlantic City also has five poker rooms, none of which have yet announced a reopening date. Given the limited capacity requirements, it seems unlikely that live poker will return anytime soon.
Gov. Murphy also announced on Twitter that restaurants will be permitted to serve dine-in customers on July 2, but, like the casinos, the dining rooms will be limited to 25% capacity.
The governor says additional restrictions will be implemented along with the reopening of the casinos. Those restrictions, he says, will be “released within the next several days.” If they’re anything similar to Las Vegas casino safety guidelines, face masks will be required at table games, and face coverings will be mandatory for all employees.
Murphy says he believes health screenings and mandatory face masks help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Casinos pushed the governor to permit reopening prior to the busy Fourth of July weekend. Despite that pressure, Murphy says things aren’t going to return to normal just yet.
“We’re not going to tolerate any knuckleheads trying to ruin it for those who wish to enjoy themselves responsibly,” he said during a press conference.