Encore Plans To Reopen On Sunday With A New Normal While Many Employees Still Wait To Return

EVERETT (CBS) – Encore Boston Harbor casino is getting ready to reopen July 12 with a new normal.

“We’re allowing three customers, not six at table games like blackjack,” said President Brian Gullbrants.  It’s one of many changes, so players aren’t gambling with their health.

Six-foot tall clear plastic dividers have been installed to keep them from dealers and players from each other.  The bottom line is the casino is back after weathering a difficult three months.

Encore Boston Harbor casino is getting ready to reopen July 12 with a new normal. (WBZ-TV)

“We have 2,700 employees back who started Monday and are being tested for COVID-19 prior to opening,” said Gullbrants.

Slot machines will have clear plastic dividers if they’re less than 6 feet apart, and there will be no craps, roulette or poker under Massachusetts Gaming guidelines.  Restaurants will also have more safety standards.

“When you sit down, we’ll bring an alcohol-based sanitizer wipe and a coaster for your mask,” said Gullbrants, who added employees are following strict sanitizing guidelines.

But Marguerite Cruz who worked in banquets at the casino is among some 300 employees who can’t yet return and doesn’t know when she will.  “I have to say it’s very tough not knowing,” said Cruz.

Lajla Lamadzema also works in banquets, but that’s an uncertain phase four opening.  “It was a great, great start with functions, and it was taking off amazingly,” said Lamadzema until the casino was forced to close mid-March.  It opened with great promise and plentiful jobs but is now less certain.

“It could be another year before we see that type of event that will have all of us working again full-time,” said Cruz.

The employees give credit to Encore for paying workers up until July 1.  They are now on unemployment and hope that when players return so will the need for more workers.

“It’s a lot of uncertainty. They don’t know how everything is going to be when we do reopen on Sunday,”  said Lamadzema.

What the casino operators do know is they’ll be eyeing capacity, sanitation and social distancing.  “We want everyone to be safe but also have some fun,” said Gullbrants.

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