ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — The casino floor at Jumer’s in Rock Island has been empty for almost 100 days – when Illinois’ Gov. JB Pritzker closed the state down to combat the potential spread of coronavirus.
Almost three months later, the state has moved into Phase 4 of its reopening plan, which allows restaurants to reopen their dine-in sections and casinos to open their doors. Starting Wednesday, casinos across the state could begin operating up to 50-percent capacity. But they must follow certain guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Travis Hankins, general manager of Jumer’s Casino, said to ensure everyone is safe during the reopening stage, the casino has started a “Play It Safe” campaign. He said the health of the guests and employees is the casino’s top priority.
“Everyone is required to wear masks,” Hankins said. “(Both) our associates and our guests. We are also doing a daily health screening, which is temperature checks for our guests and our associates as well. Anybody who has a temperature over 100.4, we’re going to ask them not to enter the building. “
Hankins said they are asking people who feel ill to stay at home. Additionally, they are doing extensive cleaning throughout the casino and hotel and are asking guests to practice good hygiene techniques. Hankins said to promote that, they have placed hand sanitizer stations in various areas of the casino.
With so many safety measures put in place, Hankins said there was a lot of training employees had to go through. He said the training taught employees how to keep themselves and the guests they serve safe.
“Just one other important thing, the training aspect for our associates we want them and our guests to both feel safe,” Hankins said. “So we have a very comprehensive training so when they come back that every associate is required to do. (They will) not only learn how they are going to be safe in their role, but how they are going to provide safety for the guests, as well.”
With safety being at the forefront, Hankins said guests can expect the casino floor to be much different when they come to Jumer’s. He said every other machine will be turned off to allow for 6 feet of social distancing. Additionally, the buffet and the steakhouse will remain closed for the time being, but the restaurant and hotel will operate at 50-percent capacity. Hankins said he is glad the casino is reopening its doors.
“It’s been very hard on everyone,” Hankins said. “Casinos are meant to be open.”
Hankins said it is unclear when they will be able to reschedule the entertainment and musical acts that were set to perform this summer.
It is not just casino managers who are excited about Phase 4; bar and grill owners with video games also have been eager to reopen. Over in Rock Falls, Illinois, Cardwell W & D Tap, owner Phyllis Cardwell said she is excited to have her video game machines up and running again.
“It’s great,” Cardwell said. “People are coming back to check out the machines and get back to regular life.”
Cardwell said the economic impact has been devastating for everyone, but she is hopeful that things will turn around with businesses reopening in Illinois. She said she is concerned about coronavirus cases rising in other states and hopes Illinois does not go backward.
“I see everybody is starting to shut down again, and I just don’t want to go through that,” Cardwell said.