Although most businesses were given the go-ahead to reopen this summer after nearly five months in lockdown, Ontario casinos have remained closed since March 16. However, on Sept. 4, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation issued a statement noting that they would reopen all 25 casino properties across the country on Sept. 28, keeping in line with the guidelines of no table games and a 50-person maximum capacity.
The reason for the later reopening date is that any plans for reopening casinos needed to be reviewed by a health and safety expert and submitted to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. In the statement, Rod Baker, the CEO of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, noted that in Ontario, the company expects to receive no financial benefit due to the significantly limited capacity of the 11 properties.
“I’m pleased we are able to safely reopen our facilities in Ontario and New Brunswick, allowing us to bring back to work team members in each province,” Baker said.
— Great Canadian (@GRTCanadian) June 30, 2020
In a statement on its website, One Toronto Gaming, which comprises Casino Woodbine in Etobicoke, Great Blue Heron Casino in Port Perry and Casino Ajax, noted that the guest experience “will look and feel very different than it did a few months ago” but that their team members are ready for reopening.
“We have limited our capacity to 50 guests and will offer a slot machine product only at this time in order to adhere to the physical distancing requirements issued by public health authorities. Your safety, security and comfort is our top priority,” the statement read, in part.
In a more fulsome document titled “Great Canadian Gaming’s Commitment to Your Continued Health and Safety,” the company outlined the steps it has been taking since the onset of the pandemic to imagine a reopening that would be safe and healthy for all team members and guests.
Among the “enhanced health and safety measures” are the installation of plexiglass shields between team members and guests for ID checks and between slot machines, signage communicating the mandatory use of face coverings and hand sanitizer stations readily available throughout the building. In addition, a guest reservation system will be implemented as part of the protocol for Ontario casinos.
The casinos will also be introducing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, contact tracing and other measures to ensure adequate air quality in the building. A rigorous training program has been designed for employees to ensure they are aware of the need to stay at home when feeling sick, report any concerns associated with COVID-19 and maintain strict hygiene, among other guidelines.
“We are particularly pleased that these limited reopenings allow us to call back some of our team members, so they can get back to work,” Chuck Keeling, executive vice president of stakeholder relations at the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation wrote in an email.
According to the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, casino properties in British Columbia and Nova Scotia will remain closed for the time being as mandated by the provincial government. Ontario and New Brunswick properties are set to reopen Sept. 28.