The Mississippi Gaming Commission will end its mask mandate for both employees and patrons of its state’s casinos on Friday at 5 p.m.
The move makes the state regulators one of the first to remove mask requirements in casinos. Governors of other states have removed statewide mask mandates, but regulators in most other states have kept stricter restrictions in place. Florida and Texas are two of the larger states to remove the directive, but neither of those states have a gaming commission.
Before Friday evening, the Mississippi Gaming Commission forced that anyone inside a casino must wear a mask unless they were actively eating or drinking. Casino workers were also required to encourage patrons to social distance and there was required signage that posted COVID-19 symptoms and asked customers to stay home if they felt sick.
Regulators in Mississippi said that its licensees must continue to follow all of the other COVID-19 guidelines set forth by the government, according to a report from the Muscatine Journal. Casinos are free to implement their own rules and continue to force masks in their property, but the state won’t force them to do so.
In Florida, the largest gaming operator in the state, the Seminole Tribe, continues to require masks while inside their casinos. The tribe also still uses dividers to separate gamblers at the tables as well.
Other states have steadily reduced COVID-19 restrictions in casinos as well, but none have removed mask mandates.
Nevada casinos are just a few days away from jumping from operating at 50% capacity to 80% and in a month, operators are expected to be at full capacity for the first time since the pandemic started. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also recently expanded capacity at New York properties to 50%.
Last month, Massachusetts regulators allowed craps games to resume, while governors in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey bumped capacity restrictions to 50%.