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Encore furloughs 3,000 workers as COVID-19 closure takes its toll

The casino's move is a signal that the economic damage from the pandemic will not be easily reversed.

Encore Boston Harbor in Everett.
Encore Boston Harbor in Everett.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/file

Encore Boston Harbor said Monday that it will furlough 3,000 more employees, taking on a major staff reduction even as the casino looks toward reopening amid a pandemic that has laid waste to the region’s hospitality industry.

With the move, effective July 1, Encore follows the other two casinos in the state, which laid off or furloughed most of their workers in April. The Everett resort, which went into the crisis with more than 4,200 people on staff, had for months kept the majority of its employees on board, though it cut part-time workers and furloughed a smaller portion of its full-time workforce earlier this month.

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Encore head of public affairs Eric Kraus said Monday that about 700 employees remain on staff at the moment, and that more will return for training when casinos have a firm reopening date. “Others will come back as our business dictates,” he added. Managers who remain will have to take pay cuts.

Encore’s latest move is a signal that the economic damage from the pandemic will not be easily reversed. State officials have not yet said when casinos will be able to reopen, though they are slated to be included in some part of Phase 3 of Governor Charlie Baker’s reopening plan, which could begin as soon as next week.

“When it reopens, Encore Boston Harbor will bring back its employees in a thoughtful and measured protocol,” the resort’s management said in a statement Monday. “Some employees working in the re-opened amenities and restaurants will return to work.”

Even when the casinos open, they will face strict rules about sanitation and social distancing that could be costly to implement and will significantly limit their offerings — potentially making it more difficult to get guests back in the door.

Last week, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission adopted minimum standards for reopened casinos that include a prohibition on poker, roulette, and craps, significant limits on the number of slot machines, and a requirement that anyone moving around the gaming floor wear masks.

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“There have been significant reductions in our gaming offerings due to physical distancing, and while we appreciate and support the new directives, they will have a substantial impact on our business,” said Kraus.

And Encore plans to move deliberately in reopening its other services, such as restaurants and lodging. The resort’s hotel will be open only four days a week at first, with limited services, according to Kraus.


Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @andyrosen.