Visitors return to large establishments as casino, malls reopen with added safety measures

MADISON, Wis. – Large establishments such as casinos and shopping malls are welcoming visitors back at the same time they’re welcoming a number of changes.

Reopening responsibly ‘name of the game’ at casino

Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison reopened to Rewards Club members Wednesday.

For weeks, the casino lacked its familiar sights and sounds.

“It was a little lonely, so this is great,” executive manager Daniel Brown said.  “At 7 a.m. we had folks at the door. We didn’t open until 10. We had them lined up almost clear across the parking lot.”

The return of guests means the introduction of safety measures, such as a temperature check upon entering, masks at all time, keeping six feet apart and only running every third slot machine.

“We have Plexiglas at transaction sites, antimicrobial application to high-touch points. That’s a product that kills the coronavirus,” Brown explained, adding that the product has been applied to the 400 open slot machines and lasts 30 days, but employees are cleaning throughout the day, as well.

“Playing at a casino is a nice outlet,” Brown said. “People have not had an opportunity to do it in quite some time.”

He said Ho-Chunk Gaming is seeing how the Madison casino soft opening goes before turning the lights back on at its locations, like in the Wisconsin Dells.

“Really, it’s about doing it responsibly,” Brown said. “That’s the name of the game.”

Stores, visitors gradually return to malls

East and West Towne Malls opened Tuesday with their own changes.

“We’ve been planning for reopening basically since the mall closed,” said Stacey Keating, spokesperson for CBL Properties, which owns the two malls. “We wanted to make sure we had all the guidelines the local health department was going to put in place so we could follow those. We also want people to be comfortable with the measures we’re putting into place.”

Keating said those measures include hand sanitizer stations, increased cleaning of high-touch areas, requiring mall management staff to wear masks and closing areas that encourage gathering, such as food court seating and children’s play areas.

While all stores are required to follow county guidelines, they can put additional measures into place, such as requiring customers wear masks.

The malls are a bit emptier than usual right now, according to Keating, who said about two dozen stores in each East and West Towne have reopened. She expects as time goes on and more stores open up, more shoppers will return, as has happened at other malls CBL owns throughout the country.

“We’re definitely looking forward to welcoming the public back, but we understand there’s concern around large public spaces, which is why we put these measures into place,” she said.

Keating recommends shoppers check out the malls’ website to see which stores are open ahead of their visit.

Both East and West Towne Malls have modified hours, opening their doors from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.