Nothing is set in stone, but it looks like casinos across British Columbia could reopen already on Canada Day, July 1, according to the province’s chief operator B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC). Still, there are plenty of ifs and buts when it comes to safety regulations.
Most casinos in the province have been closed since early 2020 and thousands of workers have been furloughed as a result of the ongoing pandemic. But with a vaccine rolling out, hopes are high that life and gambling will return to normal before long.
“We’re excited to be one step closer towards reopening the casino industry and to be included in step three of B.C.’s restart plan to safely bring people back together,” said Lynda Cavanaugh, BCLC’s Interim President and CEO.
“Casinos offer great and safe entertainment and socialization, while also generating revenue for the provincial initiatives, community programs and First Nations.”
Stringent safety measures
Those of you who remember what it used to be like to go to the casino will be in for a surprise. You probably won’t have to stay in line too much depending on what type of games you’re in to. Plexiglass and social distancing will be rigorously enforced.
Only as many players as there are available seats will be allowed on the gaming floor and the same will be applied to other amenities like bars and restaurants. Card games will be restricted to those dealt face up with the exception of Squeeze Baccarat, which will be played with one-time use cards.
BCLC also confirmed that they are doing their utmost to ensure that people will be able to enjoy bingo in a safe manner.
Staff will have to undergo extensive training regarding health and safety protocols, and BCLC are committed to monitoring capacity, standards, and air quality.
Vaccine hurdle left to overcome
Safety measures and staff training may all be for nought depending on how the planned vaccine rollout goes. The reopening would be part of the third stage in the province’s plan to get business back on its feet.
The plan hinges on at least 70 percent of the B.C. population having received their first inoculation against the coronavirus. After the first week of May, 2021, nearly half the province’s population had received the first shot.
Health experts not so optimistic
While politicians and business representatives are eager to get society and profits back to normal, health experts still profess caution. Fraser University epidemiologist Caroline Colijn said there’s no simple answer to how and when the province can return to normalcy.
“When the province gets to 75 per cent of eligible British Columbians having a first dose, it could be able to open somewhat, for example, with the province potentially allowing people to be able to dine inside restaurants again under the previous rules,” said Colijn.
B.C. and Canada, like other areas in the world, have been hit by a third wave of rising infections driven by mutations of the virus with more severe symptoms that spread faster.