he Mississippi Gaming Commission said on Thursday that starting Friday, April 30 at 5 p.m., it will end its mask mandate for all casino customers and employees.
However, the commission said all casinos must continue following other state and local rules set to slow the spread of the coronavirus, according to the Sun Herald. The commission also said that the casinos are free to set their own COVID-19 safety guidelines as well, like the frequent cleaning of surfaces.
The General Manager of Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi Chett Harrison said: “We do that, anyway, even before COVID. We want it to look crisp and clean every day”.
The Mississippi state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, did not mention casinos but he said Thursday on Twitter that he has seen “some resurgence of anti-mask non-science”.
“We look forward to diminishing mask use as vaccinations increase and COVID cases drop. But masks do work”, Dobbs wrote.
MGM Resorts will continue to require masks and social distancing in all of its casinos, including the Beau Rivage in Biloxi. “For the safety of our employees and guests, we will continue to require masks at MGM Resorts properties at this time. As vaccination efforts continue, we will reassess our health and safety protocols consistent with guidance from health experts, changing regulatory requirements, and input from our guests and employees,” said the Beau’s regional communications director Mary Cracchiollo Spain in a written statement, as reported by WLOX.
The Scarlet Pearl casino celebrated the announcement. “(Friday) at 5 p.m., we’re like Mr. Rogers in the neighborhood,” said Scarlet Pearl CEO LuAnn Pappas. “It’s the best day ever. We are going to lift the mask mandate and stop taking temperatures.” Employees and guests are still welcome to wear masks if it makes them feel safer, stressed Pappas.
Other casinos are taking the same or a similar approach as the Scarlet Pearl by allowing employees and guests to decide for themselves if they want to wear a mask or not.
At the Palace Casino Resort, that decision will be left up to employees. Like Pappas, the Palace’s general manager Keith Crosby is viewing the repeal of restrictions as a sign of progress. “The first reaction is a sigh of relief that we got a clear indication that our diligence with cleanliness, social distancing, wearing masks and, more importantly, getting vaccinated has paid off,” said Crosby.
At the Treasure Bay, masks will no longer be required but other safety protocols, like plexiglass barriers and limited seating at some table games, will still be implemented.
Mississippi casinos were allowed to reopen on May 21, 2020 — two months after they were ordered to close after the first coronavirus cases were identified in the state. Until now, the Gaming Commission had required masks inside the casinos, unless people were eating or drinking. Casino members were also asked to maintain social distance and a list of COVID-19 symptoms was at all casino entrances, requesting that people not enter if they presented any of the listed symptoms.