Posted: May 4, 2021 5:38 a.m.
Last updated: May 4, 2021, 05:41 h.
From Wednesday May 19, Atlantic City casinos will be able to operate at 100 percent capacity. For the first time since the beginning of March, they will be free of the 2020 capacity restrictions.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) released very welcome news yesterday.
"With our COVID - 19 numbers, especially hospitalizations, that are definitely going in the right direction and our immunization targets are at hand, now is the time to take serious steps to reopen our economy and ease constraints on both collection indoors and out, ”Murphy said. "We did it the right way ... letting data, science and public health guide our decisions."
On May 19, nine Atlantic City casinos will be operational. More good news - bar seating and casino buffets may resume this Friday, May 7th.
While Murphy continues to relax the coronavirus protocols statewide, masks remain mandatory indoors and the social distancing guidelines still apply. The governor's actions coincide with New York and Connecticut, which announced a mitigation of their COVID-19 in conjunction with New Jersey.
The importance of the vaccine
Murphy has set a goal of having 70 percent of Garden State's population fully vaccinated by June 30. To achieve this goal, approximately 4.7 million New Jersey residents will need to be fully vaccinated with either two injections of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson .
The New Jersey Department of Health reports that today there are more than 3.26 million people in the state who are fully vaccinated with 2019 coronavirus.
"Over the next few weeks, I encourage all other eligible New Jersey residents to get vaccinated so we can continue fighting the virus and move to the" new normal "for ourselves, our neighbors and our loved ones, added Murphy.
Let's keep it that way.
Keep getting vaccinated.
Use common sense.
We reach the goal - together.
- Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 3, 2021
Murphy's decision to allow Atlantic City to return to normal comes as the warmer summer months draw closer. The season is traditionally the busiest for the East Coast's gambling capital as people from all over the Middle Atlantic and Northeast descend to the beach town.
In 2019, prior to the pandemic, Atlantic City casinos reported approximately 86 hotel occupancy from April through September. In the first quarter - January to March - the hotel occupancy was 72.6 percent, and in the fourth quarter - October to December - 72.2 percent.
Anti-smoking advocates have used the opportunity to use COVID-19 to their advantage in convincing people who should ban public smoking indoors everywhere - including in casinos.
The Americans for Nonmokers' Rights is campaigning to urge Trenton state legislators to lift an exception that allows guests at Atlantic City casinos to smoke. Murphy responded to a question this week regarding the possibility of legislation that would end the casino's spin-off under the New Jersey Smoking Act of 2006.
"I have seen [antismoking] attorneys come up with what I think is a very convincing case," Murphy replied. However, the governor added that at this point he "has no opinion" whether he supports the ban on smoking in an indoor casino.