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MGM Resorts reveals safe reopening plans for US casinos


MGM Resorts has set out a new strategy for safely reopening its casinos, having been forced to close venues in March due to novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

The operator has devised a seven-point safety plan, based on advice from medical and scientific experts, to deter the spread of the virus, protect customers and staff, and respond to potential new cases.

“Preparing for the moment we can re-open our doors, MGM Resorts focused on developing a plan that puts health and safety at the centre of everything we do,” MGM Resorts acting chief executive and president Bill Hornbuckle explained.

“Our seven-point safety plan is the result of months of consultations with public health experts and outlines our comprehensive approach to welcoming guests back safely.”

First, MGM has committed to a wide-reaching screening program, whereby it will carry out checks on employees to establish whether they are showing any signs of coronavirus before permitting them to enter the building. Guests will also be subject to similar checks on arrival at MGM locations.

Step two on the new plan mandates the wearning of masks and personal protection equipment (PPE), with all MGM staff required to wear masks when on site. Other MGM staff working in areas such as food handling will wear additional PPE.

In terms of guests, MGM will encourage all visitors to wear masks and minimize the amount of time masks are removed when drinking on the casino floor. Guests will also not be permitted to eat on the casino floor.

MGM will also deploy a physical distancing policy at its casinos, whereby, when feasible, people must remain at least six feet from each other. Signage and floor markers will be placed to assist with this, while glass barriers will be installed in areas throughout casinos and lobbies.

Meanwhile, MGM will continue with increased and enhanced routine cleaning that it had implemented prior to the March shut-down, including using electrostatic sprayers in larger areas.

In addition, custom-built hand-washing stations with soap and water, along with hand-sanitizing stations, will be readily available in high traffic areas, with signs to help staff and guests with proper hand-washing protocols.

MGM will also monitor the use of its heating ventilation and air conditioning systems to help mitigate the risk of virus transmission, based on the latest scientific information.

Step six covers incident response protocols, whereby if someone tests positive for coronavirus, MGM will ensure they have access to medical treatment. MGM said it would also sanitize all exposed areas and, when possible, notify those who may have come in close contact with the infected individual.

Finally, MGM will roll out a number of digital innovations in order to implement more contactless for guests that eliminates or reduces the need for waiting in line.

This will include guests being able to check themselves in via the MGM Resorts mobile app, whereby the can obtain a digital key to enter their rooms, though guests can still opt to physically check-in. Digital menus will also be available to view, while virtual queues will be put in place when seats are unavailable and guests will receive a text message when their table is ready.

“Our properties will not look the way they used to for a while, and that’s not only okay, it’s critically important,” Hornbuckle said. “We will continue providing the hospitality experiences we are known for, but we must do so safely.

“We will continue working with experts and following guidance from the World Health Organization, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and government officials and regulators as we evolve these protocols based on the latest information.”

Publication of the plan comes after MGM earlier this month reported a 29.1% drop in revenue for Q1 to $2.25bn due to the effects of coronavirus, but the operator’s profits skyrocketed due to sales of two of its properties.

This week, Caesars Entertainment Corporation (CEC) also reported $123m in comprehensive profit for the first quarter, despite experiencing a year-on-year drop in revenue due to enforced casino closures as a result of coronavirus.

Upon announcing its results, CEC set out its own plans for a phased opening of its casino locations in Nevada, New Jersey and Iowa, but only when permitted by applicable government or tribal bodies.

To facilitate this, CEC has developed a health and safety program to bolster its existing standards. This includes enhanced cleaning and sanitisation of public spaces and guest rooms, with all staff to be trained on the new procedures and policies.