Coronavirus and Meetings
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The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut announced plans to reopen their casino hotels on June 1. The properties are located on sovereign land and are not subject to Governor Ned Lamont's executive orders, which restrict hotels from reopening until June 20 as part of phase two of the state's reopening plan.
The Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. and the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. will reopen under new safety protocols, which include physical distancing and personal protective equipment guidelines. Meeting rooms will open for business, but concert venues, buffets and pokers rooms will remain closed at both properties. Restaurants will only be open for takeout.
"We are uniquely positioned to host groups," said John Washko, vice president of exhibition and convention sales at the Mohegan Sun. "We have our own health, fire, police and EMS departments located within our resort campus. It's a rarity for a property to have those types of resources."
According to Washko, the Mohegan Sun developed its new health and safety standards in conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Under it, all guests and staff members will undergo a thermal temperature scan upon arrival. Anyone with a temperature of 100.2 or higher will need to take a second thermal scan. If their temperature is still high, they will not be allowed onto the property. Masks and other personal protective equipment will be encouraged for guests and required for staff members. The Mohegan Sun has also implemented changes for events hosted on the property.
"There's a lot of aspects of the meeting experience that need to be reconsidered to create that spacing," Washko said. "Things such as moving from guest rooms to meeting rooms -- if you're doing a slightly larger program, you're going to have to do spacing of people coming down. You can't move in clumps anymore and you need multiple entrances for groups to get in and out of rooms."
Some of the new meetings-protocol points at Mohegan Sun include:
- Physical distancing will be facilitated throughout the property, such as by floor markers placed six feet apart at all queue locations, furniture removal for six-foot distancing and having every other sink and urinal in operation in the bathrooms.
- Plexiglass has been placed between staff and guests at the front desk and other transaction locations. Guests also have the option to use self check-in.
- In the casino, every other slot machine will be available and table game capacity will be reduced by 50 percent.
- Sanitation stations have been added to all entrances and throughout the conference centers.
- Conference rooms will be disinfected before all events and during group breaks with disinfectants and/or foggers, as time allows.
- Meeting capacity charts have been adjusted for physical distancing.
- All food and beverage setups will include physical distancing. In addition to server-attended meals, the menu has been expanded to include boxed meals and individually packaged food items.
The Foxwoods Resort and Casino has released its own set of safety protocols. The property will use thermal cameras to conduct noninvasive temperature checks for all guests and team members. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will be denied entry. Face masks will be required for both customers and staff. In addition, employees who interact directly with guests will need to wear gloves.
Similar to the Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods is placing plexiglass separations at all transaction locations and enhancing cleanings throughout the property. Hand-sanitizing stations and sanitizing wipes will be available at entry and exit points, reception areas, the lobby, casino floors, restaurant entrances and meeting spaces. Guests will be encouraged to practice social distancing of six to 10 feet. Property layouts, including seating areas and gaming tables, have been rearranged to ensure proper distancing. All team members will receive mandatory training on infectious diseases and sanitization protocols.
"We're proud to partner with the Mohegan Tribe to ensure we develop the most responsible plan for helping the state of Connecticut recover swiftly and safely from the crippling economic impact of this pandemic," said Rodney A. Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, in a statement. "With the guidance from our chief medical officer and the CDC, we've made significant investments to enhance our processes to adapt to the challenges of the new normal brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many casinos successfully opening around the country -- we are implementing industry best practices to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone."