Detroit casinos to reopen today amid coronavirus pandemic

Smoking to be banned, capacity to be limited inside casinos

The three casinos in Detroit can open Aug. 5.

DETROIT – The three casinos in Detroit can open Aug. 5.

They will have to ban smoking and limit capacity to 15%. Tribal casinos, which are not regulated by the state, have already reopened and have been operating safely, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said last week.

“After seeing a resurgence in cases connected to social gatherings across the state, we must further limit gatherings for the health of our community and economy,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. She cited “super-spreading” events often attended by young people and linked to outbreaks — an East Lansing bar, a house party in Saline, a sandbar party at Torch Lake.

Indoor theaters, gyms, bowling alleys and places like outdoor concert venues can remain open in the Upper Peninsula and much of the northern Lower Peninsula, subject to capacity caps and distancing requirements.

Meanwhile, an indoor wedding reception in the Detroit area that had more than 100 people in attendance was linked to five confirmed COVID-19 cases, officials said. Wayne County's Public Health Division was investigating the July 18 event at the Crystal Gardens Banquet Hall in Southgate.

Those confirmed to have the coronavirus have been instructed to self-isolate. Wayne County’s communicable disease team was reaching out to others who attended to see if there were more potential cases.

The reception was in violation of Whitmer’s order limiting the number of people attending indoor events, county officials said. The measure limits attendance to no more than 10 indoors and 100 outdoors.

Notifications were being sent to all banquet halls in the county “reaffirming the rules” of the order, the county said. Inspections at banquet halls and other large venues also will be increased.

“The safety and protection of Wayne County residents is our top priority,” said Carol Austerberry, county health officer. “Businesses must be intentional about following the rules to limit the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”

Mort Meisner, a spokesman for the banquet hall, said the facility holds 1,200 people and that those attending the event practiced social distancing. They arrived about noon and left by 3:30 p.m., he said.

“There was no dancing, no partying. It was a lunch,” Meisner said. “It had been scheduled a number of months ago. Many of our events have moved into October, November, December. Some, if applicable, are held outside in a city park."

“ ... We don't see any difference in equating a small event of 100 people versus a restaurant who is also practicing social distancing, carefully,” Meisner said.

In Gladwin County in central Michigan, health officials reported at least 42 cases linked to The Spring Ministries summer camp. The Christian camp said on its website that it was informed that a camper tested positive after returning home. Subsequently, “many” staff were confirmed with infections, too.

About the Authors:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.