I dined out and played blackjack this weekend — here’s what it was like in a post-lockdown world

Jun 9, 2020

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If you’re subscribed to my weekly email newsletter, you already know that I have been homebound for a little more than three months due to coronavirus concerns. This past weekend though, I took my first flight post-lockdown. I headed to Palm Springs to see some friends.

Once in town, being the curious person that I am, I decided to see what it was like to go to a casino and then enjoy a sit-down meal at a restaurant. Here’s what those experiences were like.

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My first post-lockdown casino visit

Las Vegas reopened its casinos a few days ago with some pretty big changes. In Palm Springs though, it felt as if life was almost back to normal. We decided to go to Agua Caliente casino downtown.

Here’s a video about the cleaning and safety steps the brand is taking in both its Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage casinos:

Upon walking in, you have to lower your mask and show your ID to a security guard. I didn’t actually notice a temperature check but one was done via a noninvasive machine. A temperature check is an easy way to see if someone has a fever and potentially COVID-19.

The casino felt normal in many respects. It felt packed even though Agua Caliente’s website says they are operating at 50% capacity in the casinos to provide adequate social distancing. There was still drink service too.

Photos of Las Vegas casinos reopening showed plenty of people not wearing face masks. I had the opposite experience in Palm Springs where everyone — gamblers and dealers — had masks on. And, that was required by the casino. That meant you’d have to pull your mask down to take a drink and then pull the mask back up. You weren’t allowed to leave your mask off for any length of time while drinking and the pit bosses strictly enforced that rule. Interestingly though, there were no partitions or dividers between the dealers and players.

On the casino floor, the slot machines, table games and high limit rooms were all open and operational. People seemed to enjoy themselves despite having to wear masks during their visit.

Dining out

During the same trip, I ventured out to a restaurant to see what that would be like. My friends and I went to Mr. Lyons steakhouse, a Palm Springs institution. This is the first time I’ve experienced a temperature check at a restaurant post-lockdown.

(Photo by Brian Kelly/The Points Guy)

You need to wear a mask as you walk in and that’s when they’ll check your temperature. Interestingly, Mr. Lyons’ website has a COVID-19 update that suggests patrons “take a few minutes to cool off in your car before entering the restaurant, as the desert heat has proven to have an effect on temperature readings.”

(Photo by Brian Kelly/The Points Guy)

Once they take your temperature, they give you a QR code, which links to the menu. It’s great that they don’t have to give out a high-touch item like a paper menu. I personally loved the digital menu and felt it was a customer-friendly change.

At Mr. Lyons, you must wear your face mask until you sit down at your dining table, and the tables are spaced out well. If you must get up to use the restroom, you need to put your mask back on as you walk through the restaurant. Servers continually wear their face coverings.

It was pretty normal service, actually, and it was nice to be back at a restaurant. The menu was limited. I ordered a Bloody Mary since I haven’t had one in forever but they didn’t have it in the restaurant, which was no big deal.

(Photo by Brian Kelly/The Points Guy)

The meal was excellent — the prime rib at Mr. Lyons is out of this world.

(Photo by Brian Kelly/The Points Guy)

Despite a limited menu and the necessity for temperature checks and face masks during part of the experience, it was overall a great experience. I think the future of dining will look similar to this and it’s not so bad.

Have you gone to a casino or dined out recently? What were the safety precautions and how did it feel to get back out there? Let me know in the comments below.

Featured photo by Thana Prasongsin/Getty Images.

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