Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City said Friday it is cancelling its entertainment events until mid-April, in the latest bid to halt the spread of coronavirus across the state.
“Our highest priority is our commitment to ensure the safety and security of our guests, team members and community is paramount,” Hard Rock AC President Joe Lupo said in a Friday statement.
The move comes as the Murphy administration unveils recommendations that events with more than 250 attendees be cancelled; conferences, events and sporting matches across the state are called off and postponed; cities and local governments ban or restrict large events and order school closures; employees begin working from home; and universities switch entirely to online classes.
All these actions are part of a temporary move toward “social distancing,” which health officials contend could help snuff out the coronavirus by halting its spread.
“[S]ocial distancing works. It is our best chance to ‘flatten the curve’ and mitigate the chance of rapid spread, so we can respond to this public health emergency in an even more focused manner,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a Thursday statement.
Hard Rock said it will cancel any events at its Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena, Sound Waves, Howie Mandel’s Comedy Club and DAER Nightclub until April 15.
Lineups at these venues in March and early April included Adam Sandler, Jason Weiss, Cage Fury Fighting Championships, Hard Rock Hoops, DJ Ikon, Pitbull and Neha Kakkar—all of which will most likely be postponed. Refunds will be available for those unable to attend the rain dates.
The degree to which this could disrupt the state’s booming casino market is up in the air. Although many patrons can still gamble or place sports wagers online, they might avoid coming to Atlantic City, booking hotels and spending money in the local economy.
At the moment the cancellations are voluntary, be it at Hard Rock or any other casino, concert or sporting venue. But that could change as the state moves beyond the 29 presumed, at press time, cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the extra step of banning events with more than 500 attendees, most notably including Broadway productions.
“We hope we don’t have to get to the point of actually mandating that … under the declaration,” Col. Patrick Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said Thursday at the Murphy administration’s daily press briefings on the status of COVID-19’s spread in the state. “If agencies and institutes chose not to follow it, we do reserve the right to come and go: ‘You’re not having that event. You’re not having that wrestling match, basketball game, concert,” Callahan said.