Across the United States, local economies are struggling. Tens of millions of people are laid off and facing huge financial hardships. The federal government has provided some financial assistance, but it is not nearly enough to handle mortgages, car payments, light bills and other necessary payments that people have on a monthly basis. Many industries, including gaming, are trying to get back to work. The Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman is urging officials to get a plan together to see Atlantic City casinos reopen by early July.
Moving Forward with Reopening
No date has been officially set in Atlantic City for casinos to reopen. Suleiman wants to see the region ready by July 4ht, with strict social distancing guidelines in place along with cleaning measures. According to the chairman, the region has been one of the most economically devasted in the US from the impact of the coronavirus.
The metro area has seen a 32% increase in unemployment and there is a real risk that one or several casinos will stay closed if they cannot offer services during the busy Fourth of July weekend. If any casino closes down, it would mean the permanent loss of jobs for many residents of the state.
Consideration was made for a Memorial Day weekend opening, but the casinos were not ready on such short notice to reopen. If Atlantic City officials start now, creating a plan of action, then casinos would have plenty of time to implement guidelines and measures for a safe reopening.
Consult with Unions
According to Suleiman, the plan needs to include the labor unions who represent the casino workers. The chairman wants to see the labor unions consulted with so that employees are cared for. UNITE-HERE Local 54 is just one example of a local union that focuses on employees in sectors like carpentry, hospitality, engineers, casino floor workers.
Suleiman pointed out that the safety of casino employees is important to him. He also said that the Division of Gaming Enforcement should be in charge of enforcing the measures. The group needs to be empowered to issue fines against any casino that does not adhere to measures regarding cleaning or social distancing.
Unions have already been in discussion with lawmakers and regulators to ensure that employees are taken care of when the casinos reopen. Employees want to get back to work to be able to earn a living, but they also want to feel safe.
Employees are concerned about contracting Covid-19 as well as spreading it to their families. Temperature checks will more than likely be mandatory as well as masks and other types of personal protective equipment along with social distancing.
Employees want to know that the guests will be made to stick to guidelines just as much as they have to. Providing a safe environment for employees should be a first priority for the casino employers.
For Suleiman, he wants to see the labor unions consulted so they can have a say in how the casinos reopen so employees will feel comfortable and prepared to get back to work. Most likely, extensive training will be needed to ensure that employees understand the cleaning processes that will be required as well as their own cleanliness including constant hand washing.
It will be interesting to see what the result will be and if the casinos will actually be up and running by July 4th or if the reopening date will be later in the year.