Governors in Pennsylvania and New Jersey announced that they are removing capacity restrictions on many industries in their state later this month, including casinos.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday that starting Memorial Day, the state’s 14 commercial casinos can operate at 100% capacity. Local governments, however, may still force restrictions on those properties and of course, those properties may implement whatever measures they deem necessary.
“At 12:01 am ET on Monday, May 31, the casino floors will no longer be subject to capacity limits,” said Wolf in a statement.
Wolf’s statewide face mask mandate will stay in effect, as does the temporary ban on indoor smoking. Wolf was one of the harshest governors when it came to restrictions on the gambling industry. He shuttered his state’s casinos not once, but twice after he forced them to close for three weeks last December.
It wasn’t until April 4 that he eased up on restrictions and allowed properties to operate at 75% capacity.
Wolf’s announcement came a day after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said that he would remove capacity restrictions for Atlantic City casinos starting May 19.
“Now is the time to take major steps to reopen our economy and loosen both indoor and outdoor gathering capacity restrictions,” said Murphy in a statement.
Along with allowing full capacity, Murphy also said that starting May 7 bar seating and casino buffets would be allowed once again. Like his neighboring governor in Pennsylvania, Murphy’s mask mandate will stay in place and social distancing guidelines still apply.
According to a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer, Murphy is tying reopening to the pace of vaccinations. About half of the state’s residents are fully vaccinated, but Murphy set a goal of having 70% vaccinated by June.
Like Wolf, Murphy imposed some of the harshest lockdown restrictions on his state. After closing the brick-and-mortar casino market in mid-March last year, he didn’t allow casinos to reopen until July at 25% capacity. He also banned indoor food and beverage services at the Atlantic City properties, but eventually ditched the ban last November.
He didn’t ease those restrictions until mid-March of this year when he allowed casinos to operate at 50% capacity.