Almost all of the nearly 1,000 casinos in the United States have reopened and most of the world’s casinos have done so as well after months of lockdowns because of the COVID-19 pandemic. All major casinos, though, are still enforcing health and safety measures such as mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, severe capacity restrictions, and closures of certain service. All except one. On Wednesday, the SkyCity Auckland casino in New Zealand eliminated all of its COVID-19 protocols, as the city official had its coronavirus restrictions lifted.
To celebrate, the property’s famous Sky Tower lit up in rainbow colors as a way of “thanking Aucklanders for coming together in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.”
New Zealand has been arguably the Earth’s greatest success story when it comes to battling the pandemic, as now the entire country is at Alert Level 1. This is the lowest tier of the government’s COVID-19 Alert System.
“We can let ourselves once again feel pride,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, “that we managed to get to that position together.”
Though protective face coverings are no longer required, they are still encouraged “on public transport and when you cannot maintain physical distance from people you do not know.”
Ardern added that this does not mean COVID-19 has been eradicated from New Zealand, just that “there’s no sign of it currently.”
“We all want to avoid further restrictions,” she said, but “we need to stay vigilant.”
When the pandemic struck New Zealand earlier in the year, the country took action, creating isolation and quarantine facilities in hotels and quickly implementing a contact tracing program. Part of that included an app that would keep track of where individuals went so that if a COVID-19 case was detected, it would be easier to determine who may have been in contact with the infected person.
New cases peaked on March 28 at 146, but the number of daily new cases largely stayed under 100. By late April, COVID-19 was virtually gone. Until mid-August, most days had zero new cases and any days with new cases were only in the single digits.
There was an unfortunately resurgence of cases in August, though even then, new daily cases stayed under 20. Though the number of new cases was still low, Auckland had to go to Alert Level 3, which meant lockdowns. People were required to say home except to do things like go to the grocery store or engage in low-risk, socially distanced exercise. Public, non-essential venues, including casinos, were closed.
Ardern said this week that the summer cluster of 179 cases is now “under control.” There are three new cases, but the people are in isolation and none of them were the result of community spread. That is to say they were imported from elsewhere.