reopening

Take a Look Inside as Encore Boston Harbor Prepares to Reopen

NBC Universal, Inc.

As the Boston area's only full casino prepares to reopen this weekend, NBC10 Boston got a look inside at the steps being taken to keep people safe.

Brian Gullbrants is the president of Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Massachusetts. He's seen a lot in his career, but nothing like the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing shutdown.

"We've seen tsunamis and hurricanes and natural disasters, but nobody has seen anything like this," Gullbrants said.

At 9 a.m. Sunday, the doors of Encore will open again for the first time since the pandemic forced all Massachusetts casinos to close on March 15.

It has been a disaster financially. Encore lost tens of millions of dollars during the shutdown. It's crucial that the business avoids a second closing, so sanitizing and safety are front and center.

As guests walk in, they will be temperature-scanned. Anyone registering 100.4 degrees or higher is pulled aside and checked again. If it stays that high, they are asked to leave.

Masks are required. Social distancing in evident everywhere, from the restaurants to the casino floor. Six-foot high plexiglass is in place where distancing is impossible.

But with outbreaks of COVID-19 across the country, the casino also depends on guests to tell the truth.

"We can't possibly know where you've been," Gullbrants said. "So we hope that you are honest with us and that you self-select out if you've been to one of those places."

After paying their employees fully for 75 days, Encore furloughed some 3,000 people. Gullbrants says most are back at work.

"We were able to bring back a couple thousand of those, so we now have 2,700 people. So we feel good about where we are, but we still don't have everyone back, and we're going to play it cautiously, and as soon as we can bring them back safely, we will," he said.

The number of people allowed in is limited, so Encore will be keeping an eye on that and close the front entrance as necessary.

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