Ontario casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming centres have no COVID-19-related indoor capacity restrictions to adhere to for the first time in over a year as of Monday, October 25.
Casinos and gaming centres, along with many other settings where patrons/customers are required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination such as restaurants and bars, are now free to operate without capacity limits.
Until now, Ontario casinos had been forced to limit their capacity to 50 per cent. However, given the need for two-metre social distancing between machines, that often equated to more like one-third of full pre-pandemic capacity.
Gateway Casinos called the lifting of capacity restrictions a “game-changer.”
“A lot of heavy lifting will begin exactly at 12:01 a.m., but this is absolutely great news for us,” Rob Mitchell, director of communications and public affairs for Gateway, told CTV News.
“We can essentially restore all our dormant slots, opening our tables, and all the social distancing limitations are removed. All those directional signs you see on the floor will be gone, most of the plexiglass will come down, and we’ll have full seating at our restaurants. We think we’ll be back to normal sometime late tomorrow (Monday) afternoon.”
That sentiment was echoed by Niagara Casinos, which has around 4,000 employees and operates sites including Fallsview Casino and Resort on the Ontario side of the U.S. border.
“(Friday’s) announcement from Ontario Premier Doug Ford is a great one for Niagara Casinos,” said Niagara Casinos president Richard Taylor, per the Niagara Falls Review. “The ability to be at full capacity and easing of physical distancing requirements is a welcome step in the right direction. We’re reviewing these new guidelines and are excited to continue welcoming back more of our outstanding guests and associates. As always, the safety of our guests and associates will remain our number one priority and our dedicated associates remain committed to providing the exceptional service you’re used to.”
In accordance with provincial public health mandates, guests will be required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear a mask for the duration. Any purses or bags that are larger than 6.5 inches by 4.5 inches will not be allowed into the venue.
As well as the announcement regarding capacity limits, Premier Doug Ford also said on October 22 that proof-of-vaccination requirements will start to be lifted early next year, as long as COVID-19 trends don’t become concerning. That process will begin with casinos, along with restaurants, bars, and gyms, in January.
These are the next steps in the provincial government’s target timeline of lifting all pandemic restrictions by the end of March 2022.