PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia is officially open for business. After more than a year of living under lockdown, the city is releasing nearly all of its COVID restrictions.
“We just can’t wait to get things rolling and rock out,” Emily Dones with Rivers Casino said.READ MORE: Methacton Lacrosse Coach Garth Little Facing Charges After Video Captures Him Shoving Student-Athlete
The good times are about to roll once again at Rivers Casino. After 15 months, they, and every other business in Philadelphia hit the jackpot now that all COVID capacity limits are lifted.
“We can’t let caution go to the wind,” Dones said. “We still have to make sure that we’re taking care of our health, our loved one’s health.”
Dones is the community relations manager for the casino in Fishtown. They’re sweetening the pot for gamblers: Most of the plastic barriers around gaming tables and slots have been removed, and they’re planning concerts and live entertainment for the summer. But a spade is a spade, so sanitation is still encouraged. And some are ready to cash in their chips.
“I just turned 21 and I want to go out to the clubs and everything but I couldn’t. So now that life is getting back to normal, I can finally go out and be free,” Nyja Curtis, of Philadelphia, said.
The city is lifting these restrictions as vaccination rates skyrocket. According to city data, 1.6 million doses have been given, and just over 700,000 people are fully vaccinated. Also, the positivity rate and case counts are the lowest they’ve been since September 2020.
“It’s fun to be out and about and feeling a little bit less concerned about the pandemic,” Sam Schlichting, of Philadelphia, said.
Visitors of the recently opened Live! Casino in South Philadelphia can also finally say goodbye to the plexiglass glass barriers at its game tables.
“It’s feeling like back to normal,” Karim Wade said.READ MORE: Homeowner's Body Found Following Explosions, Massive Fire In Lower Providence Township Townhouses
And now that Philadelphia is lifting social distancing rules, there’s no need to separate those wanting to test their luck here.
“It feels really great. It’s like woah, you get the thrill of a casino again,” dealer Jane Eggers said.
The city is also now ending capacity limits inside businesses so a lot more seats are being added to the slot machines, bars, and other areas to welcome more guests here.
“It’s just an entirely different feel and experience,” said Mario Maesano, the casino’s senior VP of marketing.
Maesano explains the casino just opened in February so it has not yet operated without any COVID restrictions. But now most rules are finally ending.
“People actually being able to talk to one another, engaged, see somebody smile, it’s just a completely different atmosphere and makes it very lively,” he said.
“As you’re seeing the Plexi come down, yeah a little tear to your eye because we had a vision for what this place will be for the City of Philadelphia. Never really intended to have Plexi everywhere so this is keeping with our promise of what we wanted to deliver,” Maesano said.
“It’s excellent. When we get rid of the masks, it’ll be even better,” gambler Vinnie Kocgar said.
As for masks in Philadelphia, you still have to wear your masks indoors, but that mandate is also expected to be lifted next week on June 11.
Meanwhile, Rivers Casino is also hosting a vaccination clinic on June 16. You can either make an appointment or walk in to get the Pfizer shot.MORE NEWS: 'Sad Day In The Rescue World': Animal Advocates Fear Proposed Legislation Would Force Dog Owners To Give Up Pets
CBS3’s Howard Monroe and Matt Petrillo contributed to this report.