RIVERSIDE — With all casinos still closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff at Riverside are anxiously awaiting for the reopening.
Dan Franz, General Manager at Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, said administration made the call to close the facility on March 16, one day before the governor officially closed all casinos in the state.
Franz said due to news coverage and statements made by public health officials, administration felt closing was the safest option for all involved.
“All of a sudden you could see it going (south). That week before we were hearing about things happening all around the country and the world as we knew we just needed to make this step from a safety standpoint,” he said.
Since then, the casino has been operating with limited staff numbers. Franz said it feels strange not having everyone on site, but those that are present are working on a solution for when the doors can be open to the public again.
“At any given time we have a handful of people here, and recently as things start to open up we’re anticipating that we will get the go-ahead to open up soon as well,” he said.
Although there has been no official word from the governor’s office on when the resort can be reopened, Franz said staff are preparing now.
“When we first started dealing with this issue before we shut down, we really were cleaning and making sure everything was sanitized,” he said, adding that has been the practice for the last 14 years.
Knowing the casino brings in a large variety of people, especially older citizens, Franz said the resort has many sanitization protocols in place but have since stepped them up to ensure safety of patrons once doors open again.
“It’s going to look different. You’ll see a lot of signage, a lot of reminders,” he said.
Patrons can expect to see signs encouraging proper social distancing as well as employees in masks and other forms of personal protective equipment (PPE). Plexiglass will be up at retail counters, just as its seen in local grocery stores, he said.
Franz said administration considered putting plexiglass between slot machines as other properties around the country have done but have since decided against the idea.
“Our plan is to work through the immediate social distancing with customers by just requiring people to keep that six-foot distance,” he said.
Table games will look different as well, he said, with chairs being removed and a limit being put on how many can participate. For example, a Black Jack table would normally seat six to seven but will now only have three, he said. Roulette, typically played with up to seven, will now only be available for four at a time.
“There’s just some requirements that we’ll have to get people distanced,” he said.
The Bluetop Ridge Golf Course has been open since April 1, he said, and has its own safety measures in effect.
The same guidelines will be in effect for the spa and restaurant, he said. Protocols are already in place and the governor’s guidelines of opening restaurants only to 50 percent capacity with no more than six per table taking effect.
The buffet will remain closed for the time being, he said, as the number one priority is customer safety. Despite the number of anticipated changes, Franz said he is excited to open the doors again and staff have been filled in on the number of changes that will take place.
“There’ll definitely be a lot of changes and a lot of employee mind-set changes in how they’re viewing their job to make sure we’re keeping the public safer and healthier,” he said, adding employees will not only ask guests if they are having a good time, but if they are feeling safe. “Two months plus is a long time to be shut down.”