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Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun wade into post-pandemic era

Foxwoods Resort Casino on Wednesday was requiring all patrons and employees to continue wearing masks while Mohegan Sun was mandating that masks only be worn by those who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Jeff Hamilton, Mohegan Sun’s president and general manager, said the casino was asking employees to show proof of vaccination in order to work without a mask.

“We are checking vaccination cards among team members,” Hamilton said. “If they can’t prove they’ve been vaccinated, they have to wear a mask or they can’t work.”

He said it would be “impossible” to verify patrons’ vaccination status.

About 70% of Mohegan Sun employees — more than 3,000 of them — have been fully vaccinated, said Hamilton, who’s hopeful the lifting of the mask-wearing requirement will help convince those who have not gotten the COVID-19 vaccine to do so. He said he hoped to get more than 90% of Mohegan Sun's workforce vaccinated.

Jason Guyot, Foxwoods’ president and chief executive officer, said Wednesday his casino still was requiring patrons and employees to wear masks, at least for now.

“We are reviewing the new CDC guidance and will have an announcement by the end of the week,” he wrote in an email. “Safety of our guests and team members remains paramount and we want to ensure our plans are clearly laid out prior to lifting the masking policy.”

Foxwoods has discontinued or removed most other COVID-19 protocols, including temperature checks of patrons and plexiglass barriers that had been erected between slots positions and between table-games players and dealers, Guyot said. All slot machines, some of which had been turned off to create physical distancing, have been activated, and all capacity restrictions pertaining to table games, restaurants, theaters, events and retail shops have been lifted.

Advanced cleaning of high-touch areas will continue, and some signs related to distancing will remain in place.

Hamilton said Mohegan Sun patrons will still pass thermal temperature checkpoints, though the devices will no longer be manned. Instead, they will be monitored remotely by an employee in a central location.

The casino’s restaurants will return to 100% capacity, but the casino plans no immediate changes in capacity restrictions in gaming areas. Every other slot machine will remain inactive and plexiglass will remain in place.

“There are some people who can’t get vaccinated,” Hamilton said.

On Wednesday, Mohegan Sun announced an upcoming entertainment schedule featuring a Sunday, July 18, concert by Air Supply, which will be the first public concert at Mohegan Sun Arena since winter 2020. Arena capacity for that show and for other events, including Connecticut Sun basketball games, will be limited during May, June and most of July.

Arena capacity will return to 100% for a July 29 concert by the group Lady A.

At Foxwoods, comedian Dave Chappelle now is scheduled to perform six shows from June 24 to 27 in The Fox Tower’s Grand Theater. Ticket holders will have to pass a mandatory rapid COVID-19 antigen test before entering the theater.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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