Potawatomi Hotel & Casino bringing back mask policy beginning Sept. 9

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Starting Thursday, September 9, the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino will again require guests to wear masks in most public spaces. It's the highest-profile reimplementation of a mask mandate so far.

The hotel and casino's CEO says it was a tough decision but the right decision right now as case rates are spiking again. And leaders in the business community are taking note, preparing for whatever is necessary to keep their customers and employees safe.

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino CEO and General Manager Dominic Ortiz says, "I think it's very important that we keep this business open, and we keep these jobs in the community."

Ortiz says high transmission rates and case numbers are forcing Potawatomi Hotel & Casino to reintroduce the mask mandate, but he says it's the best way to keep people safe while protecting the business. "We're hoping that the community and Milwaukee understands, and our guests continue to play and stay loyal with us, knowing that we're doing the best we can."

Milwaukee Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic applauded the move, saying in a statement "It is admirable that they have placed the health and safety of both staff and customers above other factors through this policy."

It comes as virus numbers are spiking throughout the state. On Wednesday for the first time in months, more than 1000 people were hospitalized in Wisconsin.

Dr. David Letzer is the Chairman of the Wisconsin Medical Society's COVID-19 task force. He says, "It's the same message: get vaccinated, mask up, and social distancing."

But as the virus has evolved, so has the response, leaving the business community to navigate difficult terrain. Chris Jenkins of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce says, "But the fundamental goals actually remain the same: businesses want their customers to feel comfortable and safe when they walk in. And they're trying to figure out the easiest way and best way to make that happen."

According to a news release, guests will be required to wear a mask in most public spaces inside Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, including the Northern Lights Theater, which is scheduled to re-open Sept. 21. Masks can be removed while dining in one of the property’s restaurants. Team members have been required to wear masks since reopening of the property in June 2020.

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino will distribute masks to guests requesting them. They are available at any of the property’s entrances.

A number of other policies and initiatives to mitigate the virus remain in place. They include:

  • Plexiglass dividers between slot machines.
  • No smoking throughout the casino.
  • Increased frequency of cleaning and sanitizing in all public spaces with an emphasis on high contact surface areas.
  • Hand sanitizer stations located throughout the property.
  • Signage located throughout the property reminding guests to social distance and abide by other COVID-related protocols.
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