With new case numbers below 200, and over 50 percent of eligible Ontarians now fully vaccinated, the province is moving to Step 3 of its reopening plan this Friday – about five days ahead of schedule.
In addition to eat-in dining, outdoor gatherings of up to 100 persons, reopening of gyms, and personal care services, casinos will also be permitted to reopen, at 50 percent capacity.
It’s good news for host municipalities like Innisfil.
Except for a brief period in the winter of 2020-2021, Gateway Casino Innisfil remained shuttered during most of the pandemic. The town saw its share of OLG revenues, as a host community, drop from about $5 million per year to $1.39 million.
The reopening is also good news for Gateway, which operates 12 casinos in Ontario.
“We are excited to finally reopen casinos and community gaming centres across the province, and welcome back our employees and valued customers into a very safe environment for gaming and dining,” stated Tony Santo, CEO at Gateway Casinos. “We look forward to a safe and steady restart and the return to full operations as soon as possible.”
The company will continue to work with “local and provincial governments, public health authorities and regulators to collaboratively prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the company noted in a press release – applying all recommended safety protocols, including Personal Protective Equipment for staff, mandatory masks for all guests, hand sanitation stations, plexiglass barriers and a requirement for social distancing to be maintained.
“As always, the health and safety of our employees and customers are paramount,” Santo stated.
During the previous reopening, only 50 patrons were allowed inside Gateway Casino Innisfil at any one time, and reservations were required for those wishing to visit the facility. Limited food was available, but restaurants were closed.
This time around, the casino is reopening with the limit set at 50 percent of fire code capacity. No reservations will be required, and all patrons are welcomed.
Initially, the Express Bar will be open, along with all complimentary self-serve beverage stations; full restaurant service will begin on Monday, July 19.
Gateway Casino Innisfil, which has a maximum capacity of 3,342, offers over 1000 slots, and 26 table games. The live table games are set to reopen on July 21.
Gateway is reopening most of its casinos on Friday. London, Woodstock, and Innisfil reopen at 12:01 a.m. on July 16; Clinton, Hanover, Sault Ste. Marie, Sarnia and Thunder Bay at 9 a.m.; Chatham, Point Edward, and Sudbury at 10 a.m. Casino Rama will reopen on July 29.
Innisfil’s casino is among the earliest to open its doors.
Rob Mitchell, director of communications and public affairs explained: “Innisfil was one of our most popular locations during the province’s colour coding restrictions when we were limited to only 50 patrons at a time.”
Opening early will help meet the pent-up demand.