Manitoba’s casinos could begin reopening their doors on 2 July, according to the union representing some workers at the government-run facilities.

According to Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union, casino supervisors will return to work from 22 June to undergo an orientation on ‘what the new norm is going to be’.

“When folks are doing your orientation of course then the expectation is that they’re going to be returning to work fairly soon,” Gawronsky explained. “It’s kind of been suggested in the past that July 2nd the casinos would be opening up.

“We still don’t have an official date as of yet but with orientation being done fairly soon you would surmise that they’re going to be opening up quickly.”

Casinos in the province had previously not been permitted to reopen when Phase 3 of the COVID-19 action plan kicks in on June 22.

“There’s different rules in place that none of us are used to,” Gawronsky added. “How are the casinos going to be set up? We know that social distancing still has to take place so between machines how are they going to maintain the six feet? They’re going to have to wipe down the machines in between [uses]. Do the patrons have to come in with masks or are masks going to be provided by the casinos. Do we have to wear gloves while we’re there.?

“All of that will have to be set up in the casinos as much as it’s being set up in any of the stores.”

Asked about the MGEU’s speculation, a spokesperson for Crown Services said: “We’re following recommendations from public health officials and the opening of casinos will be considered in the coming weeks.”

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin was also pressed on the reasons why the province’s casinos weren’t included in the Phase 3 plan, despite VLT lounges and bingo halls being permitted to operate at 50% capacity.

“If we look at just the grand scale of the casinos and just how many patrons could possibly be in there, I think that’s that’s the type of thing that’s going to just take a bit longer to work out, just to ensure that we have a real solid plan,” he said. “It just didn’t make it into Phase 3. But we certainly have casinos on our mind.”

A definitive date has not yet been selected for the reopening of casinos, explained a spokesperson for Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries: “As plans to carefully reopen our province for business proceed through a phased approach, we look forward to the time we can welcome guests back to the Casinos of Winnipeg in a safe and responsible manner. Until this time, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries and the Casinos of Winnipeg will continue to follow Manitoba Health’s directions and orders.”