Philadelphia Casinos Now Require Masks And Smoking Is Out

Philadelphia Casinos Now Require Masks And Smoking Is Out

Philadelphia casinos are about to become masks on for everyone. Soon, they might be lights out for smokers.

In an announcement that made national headlines, the city of Philadelphia is reinstating its mask mandate for indoor spaces. That includes the city’s two casinos: Live! Casino Hotel Philadelphia and Rivers Casino Philadelphia in Fishtown.

The mandate goes into effect on April 18. This quickly follows the old mandate that was just lifted on March 2. The city will send inspectors out to make sure the requirement is followed.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole cited the city’s sudden rise in infections from the BA.2 omicron variant, which went over the threshold to put the city back at Level 2 containment.

“I sincerely wish we didn’t have to do this again,” said Bettigole during a news conference.

“But I am very worried about our vulnerable neighbors and loved ones.”

Putting out the fire in Philadelphia

The masking requirement comes just a few weeks after a pair of Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced legislation to ban smoking inside the Philadelphia casinos.

Sen. Jay Costa and Rep. Dan Frankel proposed the Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act on March 16. They want to close the loophole in the Clean Indoor Act that allowed for smoking inside casinos, provided it was allowed on less than 50% of the floor space.

“Let’s put to rest the myth that customers won’t come if they can’t smoke indoors,” said Frenkel in March.

“That didn’t happen when smoking was banned on airplanes. It didn’t happen when smoking was banned in restaurants, and it won’t happen when indoor smoking is finally eliminated in casinos.”

When the mask mandate was dropped, most casinos allowed smoking to resume. However, Parx, the state’s highest-grossing casino, remained smoke-free. Revenue for Parx has remained steady since smoking was disallowed.

Philadelphia’s rising cases and the return of masks

No one wants to hear or think about Covid-19, but there has been a surge of cases in Europe, and numbers have recently risen in the United States. It’s similar to what was seen with the Delta wave last summer, then the Omicron boom.

In Philadelphia, confirmed Covid-19 cases went up more than 50% in the last ten days. Granted, numbers were low before this wave and have still not reached previous surges.

Bettigole said the number of new daily cases is 142, much more than the previous period, necessitating the change. At the beginning of the year, due to the omicron variant, the seven-day average in the city was around 4,000.

Bettigole also said the number of residents who had died of Covid-19 in the last week was over 5,000.

“We don’t know if the BA.2 variant in Philadelphia will have the kind of impact on hospitalizations and deaths that we saw with the original Omicron variant this winter. I suspect that this wave will be smaller than the one we saw in January.”

Unwanted repeat in Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, masks were no longer needed at schools but required for people visiting hospitals or riding public transportation. The news of Philadelphia’s new mask mandate didn’t sit well with everyone.

Ben Fileccia, the senior director for operations at the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, which counts Rivers Casino as a member, called the news a major blow to the industry in a lengthy statement posted on Twitter.

“We are extremely disappointed to hear that the city plans to mandate that makes be required when dining indoors without any input from the mitigated community. Restaurant workers have suffered severe backlash when enforcing these rules in the past and, unfortunately, this time will be no different.”

Author: Tyler Gutierrez