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

June 09, 2020
5 min read
I dined out and played blackjack this weekend — here’s what it was like in a post-lockdown world
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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.

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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 image by Getty Images

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  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more