'It’s tough for us': Casinos ready to open, some worried it’s too soon
EDMONTON -- Casinos are among many hoping to hit the jackpot as the Alberta government is set to decide if it will move into Phase 3 on Monday.
“Every business is open in some capacity or the other, with some restrictions,” said Vik Mahajan, CEO of the River Cree Casino. “We are the only industry that’s 100 per cent closed right now.”
Casinos across Alberta have been closed for more than three months now.
“It’s tough for us because I was very surprised to see us put in step three with all of the protocols and all of the investments that we’ve done to make the space or all of the casinos safe.”
According to Mahajan, there are rules on gatherings on the casino floor as well as barriers and sanitization stations.
“If they (people) don’t comply with our mask policy, if they don’t comply with our gathering policy, we’ve asked them to leave the casino.”
The Alberta government is set to decide if the province will enter Phase 3 on Monday. That would allow casinos and theatres to reopen, in addition to easing restrictions on adult sports and indoor gatherings.
“The government’s always been about lives and livelihoods,” said Mahajan. “There’s a lot of livelihoods that are at stake here too so I’m really hopeful and I urge and request the government to let us open.”
Some Edmontonians believe it is still too soon to be moving forward with Alberta’s reopening plan.
“We have to stay where we are because the variants are taking over,” said Edmontonian Glenn Weagle.
One ICU physician agrees that as COVID-19 variants spread in Alberta, now isn’t the time to loosen restrictions.
“To relax restrictions when we know these variants are significantly more infectious, significantly more mortal, is simply the wrong thing to do especially when we have a defined end point here,” said Dr. Darren Markland.
Markland points out that “June is not that far away when you think of the last 18 months that we’ve gone through already.”
The Alberta government has said that any adult in the province that wants a COVID-19 vaccine will have gotten their first shot by the end of June.
“Any risk that we take and any death that we incur that were preventable are on them and on anybody who forces the issue because of the economy,” said Markland.
“We let go before when it was too early and now we have to deal with it.
“If we don’t deal with this, summer’s gone, you will not get to hand out in bars, you will not get to go to festivals.”
With files from CTV Edmonton’s Amanda Anderson