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Reopening Maryland: Casinos, Gyms, Malls Prepare For Limited Reopening As More COVID-19 Restrictions Lifted Friday

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The owner of Creole Soul Food, one of the many restaurants at Remington's R. House food hall, is happy to be back in business—with outdoor dining resuming here after a challenging past three months of being closed due to the COVID—19 pandemic.

"Baltimore, we are still with you, and we are still a family. We are going to get through this no matter what," said chef and owner Shunquita Neal. "It's unfortunate. A lot of folks have lost their jobs."


Baltimore's mayor has not yet allowed indoor dining here—as neighboring counties have done. "I do not think things are going too slow at all. The safety concerns of our customers and our employees are first and foremost," Neal said.

Planet Fitness in Towson is among the many gyms that can open Friday evening. Some equipment will be off limits to give people space. Masks are required here except while on the machines.


Justin Drummond showed WJZ the sanitizing wipes and signs that are part of the new protocol to keep people safe. "We are making sure that it is evident and kind of in your face so that you have all the means to protect yourself and each other," Drummond said.

The state is also allowing casinos to open starting Friday. But many will not open then.

Preparations are underway at the Horseshoe in Baltimore, which will initially open only to loyalty card holders and at just 50 percent capacity with temperature checks. No one with a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit will be allowed inside. Masks must be worn at all times. The mayor has not yet given his approval for the Horseshoe to open again.

"We furloughed 96 percent of our team here for the past three months so, just from an employee perspective, it's been very painful," said General Manager Randy Conroy.

Conroy said he supports whatever timetable the mayor and city health commissioner decide. "Once they give us the green light, I need about four days to reopen the casino, and I'm ready for that."

Half of the 2,100 slot machines will be shut down for social distancing. They will be cleaned every four hours and there are large tubs of sanitizing wipes. Bill changing and ticket machines will be cleaned once every two hours. Conroy expects about 700 of the roughly 1,300 staff members to return initially, although that number could change based on demand.

There will be mandatory sanitation at table games, which will also reduce the number of players. The poker room will be closed initially. Right now, it's being used to stock cleaning supplies and personal protective gear.

The Horseshoe promises immediate action If someone does test positive. "We have a sophisticated contact tracing protocol, and we have the luxury of having the most sophisticated surveillance system in the city—so we know where people are, and we have a very elaborate procedure around that."

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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