A new vaccination drive
British Columbia gamblers recently returned to casinos for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began as the region entered the third step of its reopening plan last month. Now, in an effort to increase the vaccination rate across the Canadian province, the local government plans to introduce a proof of vaccination requirement.
patrons will require proof of one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination
According to a post on the government website Monday, casinos must implement the measure on September 13. Starting on that date, gamblers will require proof of one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination to enter gaming facilities. By October 24, they will need to have had two doses. A number of other indoor venues will also adopt the rules, including restaurants, fitness centers, ticketed events, and conferences.
BC Government News took to Twitter on Tuesday to publicize the new measures:
Commenting on the restrictions, BC Premier John Horgan stressed the importance of vaccinations. He said: “Vaccines are our ticket to putting this pandemic behind us. So I call on all eligible unvaccinated British Columbians to roll up their sleeves to stop the spread, and help protect themselves, their loved ones, and the people in their community.”
Open but with restrictions
Rumored for weeks prior, British Columbia finally entered step three of its reopening plan on July 1. This allowed the province’s casinos to reopen for the first time in almost a year and a half. British Columbia is the only Canadian province that forced its casinos to remain closed throughout the entire pandemic.
Despite the local government allowing casinos to reopen, they are still subject to a number of restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Gaming floors can only operate at around 50% capacity. This means casino floors must reduce the number of slots and the number of seats at table games, while also restricting food and beverage services.
Although casinos must soon add proof of vaccination to this list of measures, almost 75% of British Columbia’s population has already received at least one dose of the COVID-19 inoculation. Around 67% have had both of their doses. Since June 1, however, the province’s virus case count has seen a steady increase, reaching a seven-day average of 588 new cases on Monday.
The state of play in other areas
Like British Columbia, the province of Ontario has also allowed its casinos to reopen with a 50% capacity restriction in place. The region entered step three of its own roadmap out of restrictions on July 23. Commenting at the time, Gateway Casino Hanover’s general manager Derek Tierney said the reopenings had allowed the operator to recall staff who had been off for more than 17 months.
Saskatchewan officially ended all restrictions on July 11
Gambling venues in Saskatchewan welcomed patrons once more on June 20. Casinos and bingo halls saw customers return for the first time in six months. Although the venues initially had to stick to a 150-person capacity limit, Saskatchewan officially ended all restrictions on July 11, including the mask mandate and any limits on indoor gatherings.
Elsewhere, Loto-Quebec has now opened all of its gaming properties across Quebec following the easing of restrictions in June. The operator welcomed back customers at its final property, Casino de Montreal, on June 30.