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NJ Casinos to Reopen, Indoor Dining to Resume in July With Virus Restrictions in Place

Atlantic City casinos and New Jersey restaurants will be limited at 25% capacity when they are allowed to reopen from mandated coronavirus closures in time for the July 4th holiday

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What to Know

  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says Atlantic City’s casinos will be able to reopen July 2 at 25% capacity. 
  • The city’s nine casinos have been waiting for a reopening date for weeks, even as casinos in other states reopened. 
  • In a Twitter post, the Democratic governor also said indoor dining can resume on that date, with restaurants also operating at 25% capacity.

Months after being shuttered due to the novel coronavirus, New Jersey’s casinos are going to be allowed to welcome back patrons, but in a limited fashion aimed to slow the spread of COVID-19. New Jersey's restaurants and catering halls will also be permitted to serve guests indoors again.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Twitter Monday that Atlantic City’s casinos and indoor dining throughout the Garden State can resume at 25% capacity on Thursday, July 2.

The city's nine casinos have been waiting for a reopening date for weeks, even as casinos in other states reopened.

“We're delighted to get the reopening date,” said Joe Lupo, president of the Hard Rock casino. “We thank the governor that we'll be able to be open for the July 4th weekend to meet the demand on the world-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk.”

The governor said additional safety and health guidelines will be released in the coming days for casinos and restaurants.

He said people should expect health screenings and mandatory masks inside casinos. Murphy said any visitors not complying will be escorted from the casino.

"We’re not going to tolerate any knuckleheads trying to ruin it for those who wish to enjoy themselves responsibly," Murphy said.

Many of the casinos have been planning on their own for a reopening, and have adopted measures including increased hand sanitizers and social distancing to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

But some were planning more stringent measures than others. For example, Hard Rock says it will require masks to be worn by all employees and guests, while some other casinos say they will recommend mask use for guests.

Lupo said he is confident that what Hard Rock was planning on its own will meet — and probably exceed — whatever standards the state imposes.

“Our air filtration is better than most hospitals,” he said.

He also said the casino's player database will be able to assist health authorities with any contact tracing that may become necessary.

“With 85% of our customers being rated, we can provide details on when the played, for how long, which beverage servers were in the vicinity, which room they stayed in, where they ate,” he said.

Resorts Casinos plans to utilize air ionization, and ultraviolet light as part of its sterilization protocols, and every other slot machine will be disabled to keep guests separated.

Atlantic City's casinos have been shut since March 16, and revenue has plunged since then. Each casino will decide when they will reopen.

Atlantic City's top casino won't be opening its doors to the general public until July 6, four days after most of its competition.

The Borgata tells The Associated Press it will host an invitation-only trial period starting July 2 — the first day Atlantic City casinos can reopen. But the general public will have to wait until 10 a.m. on July 6 to get in.

"When we reopen our doors, we do so with excitement to welcome back our employees and guests, and with an unwavering commitment to their health and safety,” said Melonie Johnson, the Borgata's new president.

The casino said not all its amenities will be open right away. It plans to phase some of them in over the coming weeks as it becomes evident how business levels and customer compliance with health and safety regulations are unfolding.

On Monday, Murphy also said that in-person betting will be permitted again at the state's race tracks.

Atlantic City's gaming halls will have some competition from at least two Philadelphia area casinos when they reopen. On Monday, Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania announced it would reopen on June 29.

Harrah's Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack will also reopen on June 26 pending regulatory approval.

Outdoor dining has been in place for the past week in New Jersey, but wasn't possible for all eateries. Now restaurants without outdoor space appear to be able to reopen with limited seating.

Murphy has slowly allowed for the reopening of parts of New Jersey's economy as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have decreased over several weeks. The virus does, however, continue to spread more than three months after it first was confirmed in New Jersey.

As of Monday, New Jersey had more than 169,000 coronavirus cases and 12,895 people had died from COVID-19 complications. Twenty-seven new deaths were reported Monday.

On Monday, New Jersey pools, barbershops, salons, tattoo parlors and more businesses reopened with COVID-19 restrictions in place. Murphy called Monday the middle part of the second phase of reopening from coronavirus closures.

Pools reopened in New Jersey with new restrictions and other changes in place amid the coronavirus pandemic. NBC10’s Ted Greenberg spoke to people who returned to the water.

As expected on Monday, the restriction on outdoor gatherings increased to 250 people. Indoor gatherings are capped at 100 people or 25% capacity, whichever is lower.

The first-term Democrat noted Monday that people may be letting their guards down a little bit too much and that people should still be covering their faces in public and staying apart from each other.

If the numbers keep trending downward, Murphy said he planned on announcing more reopening plans this week.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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