ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. – As of Friday evening, Maryland casinos are back, at least to an extent.
At Live! Casino & Hotel in Anne Arundel County, doors opened at 5 pm for a limited number of VIP’s.
RELATED: Hogan closes all Maryland casinos, race tracks over coronavirus concerns
The plan is to allow more guests to enter in phases over the next 10 day stretch.
“Feels good just to be out of the house,” customer Joe Dominici said. He’s one of several hundred people who noticed changes as soon as he walked into the casino, where there’s thermal scanner positioned at the door to take customers’ temperatures.
RELATED: Big changes coming to Live! Casino & Hotel in Maryland amid pandemic
From there, among other things, they’ll see plenty of plexiglass dividers, separated slot machines, reconfigured restaurants, and new signage reminding people to wear their masks.
“Even under the masks you can see the smiles and you can get a sense of how excited people are to be back,” Live! Casino President Rob Norton said.
Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather
He’s not just talking about the customers. At the height of the pandemic, Live! Laid-off nearly 2,500 people, or more than 90 percent of the staff.
So far, Norton said they’ve been able to bring back more than 2,000 of those employees, including Camille Palmer.
“I’m very fortunate to be able to come back to my job and to still help out with the players I’ve been assigned since I’ve been with the property,” Palmer said.
“The communication from the team members explaining how excited they are to be back, how thankful they are to be back, thankful for the way we’re doing things here, it’s been really heartwarming,” Norton added.
It’s a big step towards a new normal, at least for now. Although this being a casino, rest assured, some things never changed.
“Tell them to let me hit the jackpot,” laughed customer Doug McKenzie as he wrapped up an interview with Fox 5.
Live! is scheduled to reopen to the general public on Monday, June 29.