Philadelphia casinos are now once again requiring face masks for both workers and patrons. Officials reinstated the Covid-19 protocol amid a surge in infections, with about 142 new daily cases. The mandate is set to make its comeback on April 18 and will be affecting both Live! Casino Philadelphia and Rivers Casino.
Pennsylvania’s largest city has now moved into the second tier of its Covid-19 response system, which calls for such precautions, becoming thus the first in the US to restore the indoor mask mandate. The new wave of cases has been spurred by an omicron subvariant.
“I hoped we wouldn’t be meeting like this, but here we are,” said city health commissioner Cheryl Bettigole during a press conference held on Tuesday. “We hope by having folks mask up in public indoor spaces we can get ahead of the wave and keep it from reaching a peak like we saw in January.”
In addition to affecting venues within the city of Philadelphia -Live! Casino Philadelphia and Rivers Casino Philadelphia-, the mask mandate will also be in place at Wells Fargo Center, home of the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) and the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), effective April 18.
Masks are not needed at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies (MLB). Additionally, the city masking policy does not apply to casinos in the suburbs, a category that includes Harrah’s Philadelphia, Parx Casino and Valley Forge Casino Resort.
In order to enter Philadelphia casinos, guests must wear a mask – however, proof of vaccination is not required. It is unclear thus far whether smoking rules -including a potential ban- will be updated. Measures introduced last year prohibited smoking within casinos, thus making a comeback of this specific policy a likely scenario.
“If we fail to act now, knowing that every previous wave of infections has been followed by a wave of hospitalizations, and then a wave of deaths, it will be too late for many of our residents,” added Bettigole. “This is our chance to get ahead of the pandemic, to put our masks on until we have more information about the severity of this new variant.”
🧵 Due to increasing COVID-19 cases, @PhiladelphiaGov will move to Level 2: Mask Precautions beginning today. In order to provide a one-week education period for businesses, masks will be required in all indoor public spaces as of Monday, April 18, 2022. (1/4)
— Philadelphia Public Health (@PHLPublicHealth) April 11, 2022
Confirmed cases spiked 50% over the past 10 days, proving the Covid-19 pandemic is still not entirely over. However, much of the country returned to normalcy since last year -including Philly, which dropped the indoor mask mandate on March 2- and many have now criticized the reinstated measure, believing the policy could lead to negative results.
“This announcement is a major blow to thousands of small businesses and other operators in the city who were hoping this spring would be the start of recovery,” said Ben Fileccia, senior director of operations at the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, which Rivers Casino is a member of.