Closed casino

The Wild Rose Casino and Resort in late March.

CLINTON — When the ongoing coronavirus pandemic took hold of Iowa over 11 weeks ago, the Wild Rose Casino and Resort’s parking lot was emptied.

The hotel was closed down and no one was on the gaming floor – a visual display of how COVID-19 was changing the lives of Gateway-area residents.

That scene will change Monday. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced at her press conference Tuesday that casinos, as well as other entertainment venues, will be allowed to reopen.

Steve Nauman, general manager of Wild Rose Casino in Clinton, said the casino is looking forward to opening its doors Monday.

“We’ve been planning for this day for almost 10 weeks now,” Nauman said. “We are very excited. We are currently discussing the rules (Reynolds) has put in place and how it will affect our facility. So she kind of threw a wrench into our plans, and we’re going back to the drawing board.”

Nauman said the casino is seeking guidance to make sure it complies with the governor’s orders. He said it appears the casino will have to have barriers between the slot machines; workers now are trying to figure out the best way to execute her orders so they can open up June 1. He said since the announcement is still so fresh, he is waiting for clarification.

Nauman said slot machines and video table games will be available for guests Monday.

“We will be following the guidelines of the state,” Nauman said. “And we will be doing social distancing, which is the biggest thing. You’ll notice that our people will be cleaning the machine before anyone plays and after anyone plays. I don’t believe we’re going to be opening our table games immediately.”

Casinos are not the only places that will reopen for business Monday. Speedways and racetracks, outdoor music venues, grandstands, amphitheaters, amusement parks, bowling alleys, and pool halls can reopen as well. Reynolds said more restrictions will be lifted over time, but she reiterated that if COVID-19 makes a comeback or if Iowans are being irresponsible, she may have to bring back restrictions.

“That privilege comes with (the) responsibility of ensuring you’re doing the right thing to protect your health and the health of people you care about,” Reynolds said.