MGM National Harbor lays out plan to protect staff, guests in reopening

MGM Resorts International is prepping to reopen its casinos, hotels and conference spaces, including MGM National Harbor, after months in the dark during the coronavirus pandemic — but a lingering risk of disease means things won’t be the same once they’re allowed to resume business.

MGM Resorts International released a seven-point safety plan for the slow but sure reopening of its properties, which the company said was developed in conjunction with medical and scientific experts to keep the coronavirus at bay while restoring services to customers.

“Our properties will not look the way they used to for a while, and that’s not only OK, it’s critically important,” acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle said in a statement Tuesday.

“We will continue providing the hospitality experiences we are known for, but we must do so safely.”

The plan, which is being implemented at its properties across the country, follows interim guidelines for the safe reopening of businesses set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month.

Among the measures are regular temperature screenings and mandatory masks for employees, installation of plexiglass barriers on casino floors to promote social distancing, enhanced routine cleaning and contactless check-in for guests through the resorts’ mobile app.

Employees will continue to go through temperature checks before entering properties, the company said, as well as be provided with masks when on premises.

The measures appeared less strict for guests, for whom face masks were said to be “strongly encouraged” and the company will provide masks for free. Visitors will be asked to self-screen for fever, limit removal of masks while drinking on the casino floor, refrain from eating on the casino floor and to avoid travel after suspected exposure.

In the event that an employee or guest tests positive for the virus, medical and security personnel are on staff as part of an incident response protocol that calls for contact tracing and proactively sanitizing affected areas.

Maryland’s six casinos, including National Harbor, have felt the brunt of coronavirus-era financial woes. The state of Maryland collected no casino revenue at all for the month of April, compared with $60.2 million over the same period in 2019.

For the first 10 months of the 2020 fiscal year that started in July, the six casinos have generated $1.245 billion in gaming revenue, down 15% from the same period during the 2019 fiscal year.

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Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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