Masks must still be worn at Tunica Co. casinos despite new gaming commission order which lifts restrictions

TUNICA COUNTY, Miss. — You no longer have to wear a mask at some Mississippi casinos.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission ended all its coronavirus restrictions effective at 5 p.m. on Friday.

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But the new order does not apply to casinos in Tunica County, at least not yet.

“I never look to win big. I just like to play,” Earl Hickson said.

It’s all about the thrill for Hickson. He traveled all the way from North Carolina to north Mississippi to check out the casinos in Tunica County.

“I needed a change of scenery, and I like to go check out different casinos, so I came here,” he said.

Thursday, the Mississippi Gaming Commission announced an end to its mask mandate for casino customers and employees. But the commission said all casinos must continue to follow other state and local COVID-related rules.

“I think it’s still kind of early to lift the mask mandate,” Hickson said.

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Because a mask mandate is still in effect in Tunica County, county board attorney John Keith Perry said masks must still be worn inside all six of the county’s casinos.

“If you look at our ordinance, if there’s going to be more than 10 people gathered then they need to have a mask on,” Perry said.

Perry said the Tunica County Board of Supervisors may have a conversation about when to loosen restrictions at their next board meeting on Monday.

“We don’t want to take steps backwards,” he said. “We don’t want to do more than necessary because we want to protect our citizens from being exposed to COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, those who came to play like Wayne Morgan say it’s time.

“Most everyone has had their shots by now, so let’s open it up and let people breathe a little easier,” he said.

A spokeswoman with Goldstrike Casino & Resort said while masks are still required for now, they will periodically reassess the health and safety protocols in place as vaccination efforts continue.