The July 4th holiday weekend is almost here. But this year, it will take on a special meaning.
Even though the pandemic that kept all nine Atlantic City casinos closed since March 16 is far from over–which means special safety precautions still apply—the casinos have been given the go-ahead to reopen.
This is the exciting news we have been waiting for, but for anyone planning to make the trip, I can’t emphasize too strongly that this no time to throw caution to the wind. The Atlantic City casinos can only reopen at 25% capacity, and there are many other restrictions they—and you as their guests—will have to abide by as well. If you’re expecting to be able to do many of the things that you might have done at the resort a year ago, you will be in for a rude awakening.
Keep in mind that the information in this article is subject to change, as the casinos are still scrambling to find the best ways to comply with the latest regulations, which have also undergone recent changes. So use the material provided here as a guide, but check ahead of time with the individual properties you plan to visit as well.
Scheduled opening dates for the different Atlantic City casinos
The following five casinos will reopen on Thursday, July 2.
Golden Nugget and Hard Rock will open at 6 a.m. Ocean, Resorts, and Tropicana will open at 8 a.m.
The three Caesars-owned properties—Caesars, Bally’s, and Harrah’s Resort—will all have a soft opening for invited guests starting at 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 2. Then, at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 3, they will reopen to the public.
Borgata Casino, which was originally scheduled to have a soft reopening for invited guests but wait until Monday, July 6 to reopen to the public, has issued a change of plans based on Gov. Murphy’s new order on Monday, June 29 not to permit any in-house eating or drinking.
Borgata explained its decision In the following statement issued by its parent company MGM the same day.
“Our guests expect a special experience when they come to our property, and if we cannot provide that level of hospitality, we feel it best that we remain closed until such time that the governor lets us know it is safe to offer food and beverage.”
People who spent time recently in any of 16 states cannot come to an Atlantic City casino this weekend
So far, Borgata is the only Atlantic City casino that will not reopen this weekend. But you still might not be able to go if you are traveling from or have otherwise recently spent time in one of the following 16 states:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
The Governors of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut have jointly issued a travel advisory directing anyone who has recently been to any of these states, all of which have had a significant spike in positive COVID-19 test results lately, to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Thus for example, if you traveled to Las Vegas for the reopening of their casinos earlier in June or if you vacationed or visited relatives in the south or southwest, you could fall into this category. Furthermore, the list of applicable states is being updated daily, so additional states could be added.
Masks and social distancing are mandatory
Masks and social distancing are mandatory inside all Atlantic City casinos, and indoor food and beverage service and smoking are now a no-no as well.
In case you didn’t get the memo, no one not wearing a face mask will be allowed inside any Atlantic City casino. Once inside, you will be expected to keep the mask on at all times. Slot machines and table game seats will be spaced sufficiently apart to meet established social distancing criteria, but it will also be each player’s responsibility to observe the rules.
He made this decision in the wake of not only the alarming spike in positive COVID-19 cases in other states but the fact that many people in New Jersey were being lax about adhering to mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines.
As reported in an article on PressofAtlanticCity.com, Gov. Murphy felt he had no choice but to make this decision, knowing it would not be well received either by the casinos or players.
“Unfortunately the national scene compounded by instances of knucklehead behavior here at home are requiring us to hit pause on the restart of indoor dining for the foreseeable future,” he said. Asked about a time frame, he replied, “I don’t think it’s a matter of days, but a matter of weeks. We have enormous sympathy but the alternative here is worse and unacceptable.”
Casinos are still trying to adjust to the new rules
Publishing deadlines combined with the fact that individual casinos are still in the process of revising their plans to make visitors’ experience this weekend as enjoyable as possible precludes going into specific details here.
However, one property that has gone the extra mile to make sure that no guest goes hungry or thirsty is Ocean Casino Resort.
Here are some of the new provisions that Ocean Casino Resort will make available when the casino reopens.
- Take Out Dining will be offered at BOARD WOK, DISTRICT GRILL, CAFÉ 500, FROSE COFFEE BAR, LOBBY BREW, HARPER’S, PIT BOSS, ROCCO’S ITALIAN KITCHEN, SEASIDE DELI, SCOOPS, SIMPLY SALADS, THE GRIND, ZHEN BANG, AND WAHLBURGERS. (Offerings subject to change.)
- Food and beer trucks: Bites + Brews will feature Bud Lite and Stella Artois beer trucks and local food trucks featuring all your favorite food and desserts! Stop by the Boardwalk Entrance to see all that there is to offer. Hours of Operation: Starting July 2 from Noon to 9 PM. Must be 21 to experience beer trucks.
- Frosé Coffee Bar – Now serving coffee, cappuccino, hot tea, Danish, muffins, and croissants to go.
- Outdoor Bar Areas located in the O2 area adjacent to the Hotel Lobby, Sky Garden, Pool Areas, and Boardwalk Brew.
It’s a safe bet that all of the other Atlantic City casinos will also offer outdoor and takeout food and beverage service. They want your business and will do what is necessary to make your visit enjoyable while still adhering to the restrictions imposed on them.
On that note, I wish all NJ Online Casino readers a happy, safe, and healthy holiday weekend.