Gaming is slowly ramping back up in New Jersey. Atlantic City casinos were given the green light to reopen on July 2, but only at 25 percent capacity. Additional regulations from Gov. Phil Murphy prohibit indoor dining, drinking and smoking for the time being, and require that face masks be worn at all times while indoors. Travelers entering New Jersey from states with a high COVID-19 infection rate are advised to undergo a 14-day quarantine before checking in to one of the city’s nine casinos. As of July 21, 31 states, including Arizona, California, Delaware and Florida, met the travel-advisory criteria.
The first casinos to reopen were the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the Tropicana, the Golden Nugget, the Ocean Casino Resort and the Resorts Casino Hotel. Three more joined them the following day: Harrah’s Resort, Caesars and Bally’s. The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa was the last to welcome guests back, reopening its doors to the public on July 26.
According to Melonie Johnson, president and COO of the Borgata, the venue used the additional time to create new outdoor dining experiences, as well as a convenient food-takeout program, following the news that New Jersey would be reversing its plan to resume indoor dining on July 2. (At press time, the governor still hadn’t said when patrons would be allowed back inside restaurants for sit-down meals.)
Among the new dining options at the Borgata are the Sunbar at the Water Club and the Borgata Street Eats & Beer food trucks. Guests also can sit down at the outdoor Borgata Beer Garden, or order take-out or in-room delivery. The hotel’s spas and salons currently remain closed, along with the Premier Nightclub.
The Borgata, part of the MGM Resorts portfolio, is following the gaming brand’s Seven-Point Safety Plan. New initiatives positioned handwashing stations throughout the casino floor, installed plastic barriers between players and dealers at table games, and disabled every other slot machine to encourage social distancing. The Borgata also is conducting temperature checks of both staff members and guests upon entry — one of a handful of casinos in the city to do so.
Thermal temperature scans also are being conducted at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino as part of its “Safe + Sound” reopening plan, which was developed using guidelines from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will be escorted to a secondary screening area to have their temperature retaken. If their temperature remains above 100.4 degrees, they will be denied entry. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino also has created a Safe + Sound Clean Team, made up of more than 100 staff members who are focused on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces throughout the property. A designated member from each department will meet with the Safe + Sound committee weekly to monitor and enhance safety protocols. Limited spa and salon services currently are being offered by appointment only at the property.