Starting in September, two more provinces in Canada will begin to require proof of vaccination for gamblers to enter casinos.
Quebec is implementing a vaccine passport system starting Sept. 1 that will effectively bar people who aren’t fully vaccinated from many non-essential activities including casinos and gaming centres. Potential gamblers will have to show an electronic record of vaccination in the form of a QR code in order to be allowed onto the premises.
Casinos and bingo halls have been earmarked alongside other establishments such as restaurants, gyms, and sports venues as holding the potential for a high risk of transmission of COVID-19, explains CBC.
There will be some leniency for the public in the first two weeks, but penalties will be applied starting Sept. 15. Inspectors will be checking non-essential businesses for compliance, and customers can report businesses that are not checking QR codes. Non-compliance could result in a business being shut down.
People who reside in another province or country will be able to show a printed proof of vaccination, combined with identification that proves where they live.
Quebec will soon be followed by British Columbia, which recently announced its own vaccine card. B.C.’s measure, which begins Sept. 13, differs in the fact that visitors to non-essential businesses such as casinos need only have received their first dose of vaccination. However, a government press release explained that said that by Oct. 24, entry will require people to be fully vaccinated at least seven days after receiving both doses.
B.C provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained that it’s “up to each business ” to determine whether employees must be vaccinated, reports CTV. Enforcement of the mandate will be similar to how the province asks liquor servers to ask for ID before serving alcohol, added Henry. There will be support available for businesses looking to manage the new requirement.
These two provinces will follow Manitoba, which mandated earlier this summer that residents must be fully vaccinated in order to enter casinos. Gaming centres in that province are permitted to open at 50 per cent capacity, but only to those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Manitobans must have had their second dose for at least two weeks to be considered fully vaccinated.
While staff at Manitoba casinos are not required to get vaccinated, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries told CTV it is strongly recommended.
The intention of the vaccine passport measures, according to governments and health staff, is to avoid the widespread closures that marked earlier waves of COVID-19. B.C. casinos only recently opened for the first time since the start of pandemic in March 2020, while Quebec endured a strict lockdown at the start of 2021. Governments also hope the mandates will serve as motivation for the unvaccinated to get their jabs.
While these are the only Canadian jurisdictions – so far – to mandate such a measure, other areas of the world have already made similar moves. In the United States, for example, New York and California also require proof of vaccination for some events.
In some areas of the U.S., casino organizations are implementing their own form of vaccine passports. Earlier this month, Harrah’s New Orleans, operated by Caesars, became the first casino in the U.S. to require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter the property.
It’s not just visitors affected, either. As reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, MGM Resorts has confirmed that it will require all new hires at its properties in the U.S. will be required to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated against the virus starting Aug. 30. All salaried employees who do not work primarily from home will be required to show proof by Oct. 15. The company had already announced it would be mandating that its Las Vegas employees who haven’t shown proof of vaccination must pay for regular testing.
Meanwhile, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City recently announced a new incentive program called “Rock Your Shot” that is intended to help encourage its employees to receive COVID-19 vaccination by offering a $100 gift card to fully vaccinated employees along with chances to win grand prizes including $50,000 cash, a 2021 Jeep Cherokee, 15 prizes of $15,000 each, and more.