fter being closed since Alberta shut down casinos in March to stop the spread of COVID-19, table games can open again with mitigating health and safety measures in place as of Thursday.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw announced Thursday that table games at casinos can operate again, as reported by Global News. Casinos were allowed to open in that province on June 12 under Phase 2 of Alberta’s relaunch strategy, though table games remained closed.
“The last few months, there’s been an opportunity to assess whether or not there’s been transmission in casino environments here, and also to look at other jurisdictions where casinos have opened with table games as a part of their process,” Hinshaw said. “We haven’t seen transmission issues locally and with casinos that have opened table games, we have not seen significant transmission events there. So, looking at the evidence of spread as well as looking at the impacts and other factors that go into that decision, that’s the comprehensive look that went into deciding that piece.”
Alberta Health updated its guidance for casinos Thursday morning to include the safe operation of table games. Requirements for casinos include providing hand sanitizer and remind patrons to sanitize prior to the start of play; stopping guests from gathering, cheering, shouting or back wager behind players at the table games; ensuring players stay two metres apart at all betting seats on table games; and that all dealers sanitize or wash their hands before their shift starts, before returning to tables after breaks, and in between in any deck or card shoe change.
Also, each betting space may be used if a clear barrier large enough to prevent droplet transmission separating the spaces is installed. If a clear barrier is not installed at a gaming table that protects both players and dealers, the maximum number of players per table is two.
Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis said the new guidelines mean Alberta casino operators and host First Nation casino operators can decide if they want to resume table games in their venues starting Thursday. “Some may be prepared to resume immediately, while others may require more time to get their operations ready,” AGLC spokesperson Heather Holemen told Global News. “AGLC will work with each facility to ensure available table seats are spaced every two metres (six feet), unless separated by a physical barrier.”
The River Cree Resort and Casino said it will be reopening table games on Friday at 11 a.m. Poker will not be open.