New York has removed COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, allowing the state’s casinos to reopen at 100% capacity. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Major changes for the Empire State
New York casinos can now operate at 100% capacity, thanks to a recent change in COVID-19 restrictions. Earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the immediate removal of restrictions because of the percentage of vaccinated individuals in the state. A total of 70% of individuals in New York ages 18 and older have received at least their first dose.
health guidance is now optional for commercial businesses
With the change, health guidance is now optional for commercial businesses. There are no longer requirements for social gathering limits, social distancing, health screening, capacity, or cleaning and disinfecting. Officials are asking unvaccinated individuals to continue to wear a mask based on CDC guidelines.
New York casinos open at 100%
Governor Cuomo announced the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions on June 15. Commercial businesses such as retail stores, offices, gyms, and fitness centers do not have to follow the guidelines any longer. In the announcement, the governor pointed out the state’s high percentage of vaccinated individuals and how the it is ahead of schedule in the vaccination process.
The governor congratulated New York residents, revealing that health officials have administered over 20 million vaccines.
We’re no longer just surviving—we’re thriving.”
“We’re no longer just surviving—we’re thriving,” Cuomo said. “The state mandates that have proven right and brought us through this pandemic are relaxed as of today, effective immediately.”
New York has removed the minimum standard for reopening businesses. This allows businesses to choose whether or not they will continue to follow certain health and safety measures or remove them all. For New York casinos, the restriction change means that services can return to normal.
Rivers Casino ready for capacity changes
Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady wasted no time in announcing full capacity operations. The company released an update via Twitter:
Rivers has removed all plexiglass safety barriers from slots and table games. The casino’s Van Slyck bar will reopen on Friday, June 18. The casino will continue to operate from 6am until 2am.
Rivers plans to continue its “Sure Bet Sanitized” cleaning program. The casino still requires masks for unvaccinated guests and employees.
The casino also wants to bring back live entertainment and open its poker room as soon as possible. Any plans for the reopening of these services will be provided in due course.
Lower capacity operations for nine months
New York casinos reopened last September, much later than other states, because of the massive number of positive COVID-19 cases. At the time, the casinos were subject to a 25% capacity restriction. It was not until May 15, 2021 that the gaming facilities in the state were allowed to increase to 50% capacity.
The restrictions eased because of the sharp decline in the seven-day average positivity rate. The May percentage was the lowest recorded in the state since November. Residents have continued to receive vaccines at a steady pace and the number COVID-19-related hospitalizations has also dropped significantly.
The change in capacity percentage came shortly after the state agreed to remove the 11pm curfew placed on casinos. As of April 5, casinos were allowed to choose their operating hours.