New options for a night out: Clubs and casinos set to reopen July 1

No businesses have been closed due to COVID-19 restrictions longer than casinos.

They were forced to shut their doors in March 2020, and are finally able to reopen on July 1 as part of Step 3 of B.C.’s restart plan.

“It’s a flurry of activity as we get ready for our reopening tomorrow (Thursday). Obviously the sites needed a good deep clean over the 15 months we have been closed,” said Tanya Gabara with Gateway Casinos, which operates the Starlight, the Grand Villa and the Cascades in Metro Vancouver.

But it won’t be business as usual. Customers and staff will be required to wear masks, there will be Plexiglas between dealers and gamblers, and machines will be spaced out for physical distancing.

Casinos don’t think those measures will scare away guests.

“Customers are really excited just like our staff to get back in the building. I think you will see a lot of excitement for people to get back to an entertainment that they really enjoyed pre-COVID and is finally coming back for them,” said Gabara.

Nightclubs are also allowed to reopen July 1 for the first time since last September.

“I think people are really excited. As soon as the news got out, my phone literally blew up and all of my staff’s phones were blowing up as well. So I’m very confident people are excited to get back to normal life and come and enjoy a night out,” said Dave Kershaw, the owner of Cabana Lounge on the Granville strip.

But like casinos, going to a club will be different than it was pre-pandemic. Customers must be seated at tables with their group, which can be no larger than 10 people. And dancing is not allowed, a rule Cabana will enforce with a three strikes, you’re out policy.

“We will be polite about it, but it’s the law and people have to respect it and keep socially distanced until this whole thing is really behind us,” said Kershaw.

Under the new opening rules, he suggests people book a table in advance at their favourite club.

“It’s not like regular service, a regular night where people can come and mingle around. That’s not going to be happening during this period, so yeah booking in advance is always a smart plan,” he said.

Cabana customers don’t seem to mind. The club is sold out for opening night.

“I think people are dying to get back it, just from what people are saying to me,” said Kershaw. “They’re literally itching to come down here.”