Arkansas Dept. of Health to release reopening guidelines for casinos Friday

Updated: May. 7, 2020 at 9:49 PM CDT
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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WMC) - Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has given the go-ahead for the state’s three casinos to reopen after being closed since late March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think they should wait just a little bit longer,” said Bonnie Winters, West Memphis resident.

“I think the pandemic will get worse. I don’t feel we are ready yet.”

Southland Casino right now has a temporarily closed sign. There is even no activity on the construction going on at the West Memphis casino.

Governor Hutchinson said the health department is working on guidelines for the casinos reopening.

“One-third capacity with stringent social distancing requirements,” said Hutchinson.

Some residents say that is not enough.

“I think it’s going to spread around and we’re going to have more outbreaks and it’s just going to be more of a worst-case scenario. We’re just asking for it,” said Jeffrey Wilburn, West Memphis resident.

Clearly, people at the casino will not be able to sit next to each other and there will need to be a lot of cleaning and disinfecting going on. It is not clear if certain games will be restricted.

“I think that if they open and spread them out maybe every four places. I think that would be fine and I’d they wear masks that would be fine,” said Katherine Gray, West Memphis resident.

West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon recently said he doesn’t want to reopen the city until June 1.

He did not want to comment on the governor’s announcement about the May 18th opening of the casinos until he can review what the governor has said and exactly what the restrictions will be.

Southland Casino said in a statement the casino plans to reopen May 18 and precautions will be taken to keep patrons safe.

The Arkansas Department of Health is expected to release the exact guidelines for the casino reopening on Friday.

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