When Michigan began to test whether or not COVID-19 was under control in the state this past summer, it gave the three commercial casinos in Detroit the green light to relaunch. Having been shut down since the middle of March, they were anxious to get things going, but the strict capacity limit of just 15% put a damper on their excitement. The result was a year-on-year drop in revenue, yet they still managed to pull down in September about 80% of what they saw a year earlier. Those gains are now going to be offset after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered new COVID-19 lockdown measures as the state begins to see a new climb in the number of positive cases.
As of this Wednesday, the casinos will need to close their doors for three weeks. There are now a total of 251,813 coronavirus cases in the state, of which 98,000 have been reported since October 15. Whitmer said when she announced the new order, If we don’t act now, thousands more will die, and our hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed. We can get through this together by listening to health experts once again and taking action right now to slow the spread of this deadly virus.”
As a result, it’s possible that the Greektown, MGM Grand Detroit and MotorCity casinos will be forced to let at least some of their staff go, but no one is commenting on the possibilities yet. Other states have had to take precautionary measures in order to stem the return of COVID-19 and many casinos have reduced their hours, but Michigan becomes the first to order a complete shutdown. The measure covers not only casinos, but theaters, night clubs, bowling alleys and any other facility that might be prime spots for indoor social gatherings and, as a result, the spread of the coronavirus. One of the few exceptions will be dining, with restaurants given approval to continue outdoor operations.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon explains, “Indoor gatherings are the greatest source of spread, and sharply limiting them is our focus. The order is targeted and temporary, but a terrible loss of life will be forever unless we act. By coming together today, we can save thousands of lives.”
Also given a free pass are professional and college sports. They will need to adhere to “extraordinary standards,” but the games will be able to proceed. However, no stadiums will be allowed to welcome fans for the time being.