ELIZABETH — Employees at Caesars Southern Indiana in Elizabeth delivered a petition Wednesday to management demanding better compliance with guests wearing masks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. It was signed by 305 people in the company.
The casino reopened June 15 after more than two months of mandated closure under Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s ‘Back on Track’ plan to lift restrictions on businesses, school, and events in phases.
The Caesars website lists protocol used now to safeguard against the disease, including scanning IDs and taking temperature of all people entering, limiting players at table games, providing sanitizer and promoting social distancing.
Masks are also mandatory by all in the building, and signs are posted in public spaces to alert guests to this.
But employees say there’s a major loophole — smoking. Under the new restrictions, smoking is not allowed now at table games or in the designated non-smoking area on the casino floor. But it’s still allowed at slot machines, and some of the employees say some patrons will keep their masks around their chin while they smoke or drink, using that as an excuse. They say some just don’t wear masks, and they want their bosses to protect them by enforcing the policy.
Anjila Gaudet, who works at the casino, said they’re not asking for smoking to be prohibited, but maybe moved to an area where there aren’t employees forced to interact with maskless guests.
“When they’re smoking, it creates a lot of gray areas where the guests are able to just sit without masks,” Gaudet said. “And with the numbers in our state right now, we find that its unacceptable for anybody to not have masks in the casino. We feel like our lives are important and we have to be at work so we have to be taken care of. We need a safe work environment.
The Indiana State Department of Health reported Wednesday 45,952 cases that had been identified as of the end of the previous day. Of these, 363 had been reported in neighboring Floyd County, where the first resident identified there in March was also an employee who had worked at Caesars since it opened. He died in April from the disease.
“We’re here to stand up and demand better — we don’t want to lose another employee to COVID-19,” said employee Tanda Ems. “We are demanding that they protect every employee on this property.
“We come to work, we do our job proudly at a company we enjoy working for. I love my job here; I’ve been here 17 years but I want to see all of our coworkers that come to work are able to go home safe, healthy and not at risk.”
Both staff members are part of the union, and said they were proud to see how even people in other departments not affected by the smoking have shown support in this request.
“All of our workers are coming together and it’s a really beautiful thing because we all are in this fight together,” Gaudet said. “It’s a life-and-death issue. We’re not overreacting, it’s a deadly disease and it’s hitting us at home hard.”
Attempts Wednesday to reach a representative who could speak for the company were unsuccessful.