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After 'some progress,' Lamont signs off on casino reopenings

Gov. Ned Lamont somewhat grudgingly signed off Friday on the casinos’ scheduled reopenings.

Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, set to open to the public Monday for the first time in 11 weeks, will cater to invited guests during “soft” openings over the weekend.

“We made some progress working with our friends at the casinos,” Lamont said at his daily coronavirus news conference outside the State Capitol in Hartford. “Not as much as I would have wanted, but progress. ... They took to heart some of the thoughts we had.”

He said he appreciated that the casinos’ respective owners — the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes — had agreed not to accept hotel reservations from out-of-state residents in the first phase of their reopenings, and to require the wearing of masks. The casinos also will curtail smoking, limiting it to designated areas outside gaming floors.

As for his recommendation that initially no alcohol be served, Lamont said, “I have not gotten the positive response on that. One (casino) mentioned, ‘Hey, we’re just going to not allow three drinks an hour, but two drinks an hour, and they’ll drink with a straw and we’ll strictly enforce it.’”

“Maybe. We’ll see,” he said.

Lamont said the casinos will set out an advisory alerting patrons to the risks associated with COVID-19, the coronavirus disease that caused much of the state to shut down for two months.

“We’re going to take a good hard look at that and see how strict it is,” he said. “I’ve told people over the age of 65 to stay safe, stay home ... anybody with a pre-existing condition ... stay safe, stay home. I want that to be clear to anybody that’s thinking about going to the casino. And if it’s not made clear through the advisory, we’ll have some electronic signage that reminds people of the risk they’re taking.”

Connecticut has had 41,762 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 6:30 p.m. Friday, the governor's office said, up 203 from Thursday. The state saw 42 additional deaths associated with the disease, bringing the overall total to 3,868 deaths. Hospitals in the state were caring for 577 COVID-19 patients, down 71 from the day before.

Thus far, 241,393 tests have been reported, up 5,868 from Thursday.

New London County had 1,068 COVID-19 cases Friday, one higher than the day before, and 12 people were hospitalized with the disease. Two additional deaths have brought the county's total to 85.

The Rhode Island Lottery announced Friday that the Twin River casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton will begin a limited, by-invitation-only reopening on Monday, June 8.

The reopening will be limited to select Twin River rewards program members and only will include play on slot machines, not all of which will be activated, according to the lottery. Table games will not be operated until further notice, and hours of operation will be from 10 a.m. to midnight daily to allow for overnight cleaning. Smoking will not be allowed during the limited reopening.

No date for a full public reopening has been determined, the lottery said.

Separately, Lamont announced Friday he is easing pandemic restrictions on religious services, allowing houses of worship to now have up to 100 people inside, or 25% capacity, whichever is less, The Associated Press reported. Outdoor worship services will now be limited to up to 150 people, so long as everyone maintains proper social distancing. All such gatherings previously had been limited to 50 people under earlier orders.





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