Coronavirus: Peterborough man’s ‘dying wish’ to visit casino denied over mask policy

Click to play video 'Two brothers refused entry to Shorelines Casino Peterborough' Two brothers refused entry to Shorelines Casino Peterborough
The re-opening of the casino in Peterborough was something the Reynold brothers had been looking forward to. But when the siblings arrived there Monday morning, they were refused entry – Sep 28, 2020

A Peterborough, Ont., man says one of his brother’s dying wishes wasn’t granted after they denied entry to city’s casino on Monday.

Shorelines Casino Peterborough and 10 others across Ontario (including nearby Shorelines Slots at Kawartha Downs in Fraserville) reopened their doors on Monday after being closed since mid-March due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The reopenings are part of the province’s Stage 3 framework for reopening its economy.

Read more: Table games at Alberta casinos can re-open with COVID-19 safety measures

Under new provincial guidelines, only a maximum of 50 people are allowed inside casinos and only slots will be available — table games and food services are closed.

On Monday morning, regular patrons Ronald and Robert Reynolds were refused entry to the casino. The brothers say they both have serious emphysema and were not wearing masks, sayoing they restrict their breathing.

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Robert, 68, is currently with just one lung, utilizes an oxygen tank and claims he may have one year to live.

“I told him on the 28th when it opened I would promise to bring him up,” said Ronald.

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“But we were turned away because we wouldn’t wear a mask and I don’t think that’s right.”

Ronald argued their case with casino supervisors but the casino wouldn’t budge.

A mandatory face mask policy went into effect in Peterborough on Aug. 1. Peterborough Public Health noted when the policy includes exemptions such as for medical reasons, stating “a person cannot safely wear a face covering such as, but not limited to, respiratory disease, cognitive difficulties or difficulties in hearing or processing information.”

However, the medical officer of health has stated it is is within a private property owner’s right to restrict access or deny people access if they aren’t wearing a face covering.

“It remains up to individual business owners and operators if they wish to refuse entry to individuals who may not have an exemption and choose not to wear one,” the health unit states on its website.

“You cannot tell by looking at someone whether they have a condition that restricts their ability to wear a face covering.”

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Read more: Elements Casino Brantford is one of several Ontario casinos to reopen

Global News Peterborough reached out to Shorelines Casino about the Reynolds’ situation and received the following statement from its owner Great Canadian Gaming Corp., based out of Richmond, B.C.

“Our sole focus and priority with the reopening of our properties across Ontario today is the health and safety of our guests and team members,” reads the statement from Chuck Keeling, executive vice-president of stakeholder relations and responsible gaming.

“With that objective in mind, our enhanced health and safety protocol includes the mandatory use of face coverings for both guests and team members, recognizing the importance of face coverings in our workplace, and their role in containing the spread of COVID-19.”

Ronald says he’ll continue to fight for what he believes is their right to enter the gambling centre since his “kid brother” might not be around much longer.

— More to come