Some Pennsylvania casinos already ditched the mask rule for vaccinated visitors.
It comes one day after the US Center for Disease Control said that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear masks indoors or outdoors. Also, the updated guidance says people do not need to practice social distancing except for in certain places.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced on Friday that businesses can continue to require people to wear masks.
No masks for vaxxed players at Meadows, Rivers Pittsburgh and Valley Forge Casino, Harrah’s
The Meadows tweeted on Friday afternoon no masks for fully vaccinated visitors to the casino in Washington, PA.
On Friday evening, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh posted on its social media channels:
Per CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines effective immediately
Individuals who are fully vaccinated from COVID-19 no longer need to wear a mask.
Individuals who are not vaccinated or only partially vaccinated from COVID-19 must continue to wear a mask.
I took a trip to nearby Valley Forge Casino to check out the mask mandate situation.
Two signs at the entrance said:
Fully vaccinated guests are not required to wear masks. Based upon CDC guidance, masks are required for non-vaccinated guests and must be worn covering your nose and mouth.
About 80% of the players at Valley Forge Casino on Friday night were wearing masks.
Harrah’s Casino Philadelphia said that anyone who is vaccinated, does not have to wear a mask.
Sources connected to Wind Creek Casino in Bethlehem said masks are still required. Also, masks are still mandated Live! Casino Pittsburgh. They posted on Facebook in part:
“We are aware of the CDC’s latest guidelines regarding fully vaccinated people not needing to wear a mask. At Live! Casino, our top priority has always been the safety and well being of our guests and team members. We are currently evaluating our policies regarding mask wearing. We still kindly ask that you please wear a mask when you are at Live! Casino until further notice.”
The pressing question and comments regarding the “no masked if vaxxed” rule is enforcement. For casinos, and any business, how do they go about determining who is fully vaccinated or not? Will security guards ask for “identification and vaccination card?” What if visitors refuse?
Casinos mum on expanded capacity and loosened restrictions
PlayPennsylvania reached out to reps for Valley Forge Casino on May 5 about Gov. Wolf lifting capacity limits on Memorial Day to inquire if they would loosen any COVID-19 safety measures. Reps did follow up to say they were working on an answer but as of May 14 did not provide an official comment.
PlayPennsylvania reached out to Rivers Casino Pittsburgh on May 5 with similar questions. Reps also said they were working to get an answer but did not provide a firm comment.
On May 5, Governor Tom Wolf said Pennsylvania would lift all COVID-19 restrictions, except mask wearing in public, on Memorial Day. It meant that Pennsylvania casinos can expand capacity to 100%. In addition, there will be no limits at bars or restaurants.
However, the City of Philadelphia delayed saying when or if they would follow suit with the rest of the state. Less than a week later, Philadelphia revealed they would lift all restrictions except masking on June 11. The two Philadelphia casinos – Live! Casino Philadelphia and Rivers Casino Philadelphia – can increase capacity on Friday, May 21.
PlayPennsylvania reached out to a number of other PA casinos for comment on the expanded capacity and loosened restrictions but casinos were tight-lipped.
Sources from Live! Casino Philadelphia say that Live! plans to expand to 75% capacity per the City’s loosened rules. However, Live! Casino staff have not been told if the employees and visitors who are fully vaccinated will be required to wear masks or not.
Masks required for now at Atlantic City casinos
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on Friday afternoon that “We’ll keep our indoor mask mandate in place in public settings as we continue to work toward our vaccination goals.”
New Jersey is ending capacity limits on May 19. Atlantic City casinos, restaurants, bars, retail, pools and spas can move to full capacity. Starting Friday, people can once again sit at a bar or eat at a buffet in New Jersey.
Pennsylvania has given fifth-most doses
According to the CDC, as of May 14, about 47.3% of Pennsylvanians over 18 are fully vaccinated. With over 9.5 million vaccines given so far, PA ranks fifth in the US for total doses administered.
The PA Dept. of Health said that the order requiring Pennsylvanians to wear masks would be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. They tweaked their masking rules with the CDC’s updated guidance.
Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam commented:
“By getting vaccinated with one of the three safe and effective vaccines, you are adding the best layer of protection for yourself and others. If you are fully vaccinated, it is an incentive to be able to remove your mask, but businesses and workplaces may still require this added layer of protection for their employees or customers that may have underlying conditions that continue to make them vulnerable to this virus. We ask that Pennsylvanians continue to be kind and respectful to each other as we continue to fight COVID-19 in our communities and continue to get residents vaccinated.”
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Wayne Parry.