With the threat from Covid-19 continuing to recede, Loto-Québec has announced that some of the provinces biggest casinos will once again be allowed to open their doors.
Five of them – the casinos in Montreal, Charlevoix, Lac-Lemy, and the Gaming Rooms in Quebec City and Trois Rivières – will be removing the shutters on February 28th. Patrons of the casino at Mont-Tremblant will have to wait a little longer, until March 3rd, before they are able to enter the doors again.
In addition, video lottery terminals in bars and Kinzo operations will also be allowed to resume.
For those who prefer physically being there, it means they can once again get there fix of live casino action.
Not that people have been denied the opportunity to play at all during the pandemic. Whilst bricks and mortar casinos may have been closed, the online casino business has thrived -and continues to do so.
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Not that things are entirely back to normal. Casino capacity will be limited to 50% for the foreseeable future, whilst it will be left to individual operators to decide opening hours. Attendees will have to produce vaccination certificates, whilst the wearing of masks, for customers and employees alike, will be mandatory in gaming areas.
Despite these limitations, the prospect of these venues reopening will have thousands of people licking their lips in anticipation, particularly the Casino de Montreal, the largest land-based casino in Canada at over 526,000 square feet.
First opened in 1993, it employs close to 3,000 people, and, apart from its gaming area, it also has five restaurants, and three bars, and hosts numerous events in the course of a normal year, including dances, comedy shows and live music shows. Its New Year’s party has become legendary, lasting from the afternoon of December 31st through to the morning of the next day.
Owned by a subsidiary of Loro-Québec, all profits from the casino go the provincial government.
Québec Premier François Legault, has told citizens that everybody is going to have to learn to live with the virus, and warns that there may yet be a sixth wave. He also knows that many people are fed up with restrictions, but stresses that it is important to remember why they are necessary in the first place.
Meanwhile, whilst not yet committing itself, Legault’s administration is hoping to lift all remining Covid-19 restrictions by mid-March.
The current measures, which included a closure of all venues in Quebec’s entertainment district, including bars, cinemas and entertainment venues, were imposed in December in response to rapidly rising case numbers.
The virus has not gone away – last week, the province announced that there were still nearly 2,000 people in hospital as a result of it. But it is hoped that now the spike in case number and fatalities has passed.
Government statistics reveal that 91% of Quebec’s population – aged five and up – had received at least one jab, and more than 86% of them have been double vaccinated.