Yesterday, September 7, 2021, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) announced that players planning to play in the 2021 WSOP are allowed not to wear masks at the table. The poker operator said its decision aligns with Nevada Emergency Directive 050 signed by the state’s governor Steve Sisolak on September 2, 2021. But, these players must wear a mask whenever they are a step away from the poker table.
WSOP announced through its official Twitter account. The post indicated that attendees must be fully vaccinated, making it possible for players not to wear masks.
The emergency directive extended the mask exception to include conventions in counties with high or substantial COVID-19 spread. This means a county where the spread of coronavirus is likely is termed as high or substantial. Clark County is one of Nevada’s counties that falls under the “high” category as classified by the Center for Disease Control.
However, the emergency directive has several mandates and qualifiers. For example, convention organizers can make masks optional if the attendees are required to be vaccinated. If the organizer does not require vaccinated attendees, they must wear masks.
Several conditions must apply as well. One of the rules a convention must meet is to have over 4000 attendees. Another rule is for the events to be held in a specified amount of time. Also, attendees must pre-register to attend and show proof of at least one verifiable vaccination against the coronavirus.
From the above few conditions, the WSOP seems to qualify for the emergency directive. The poker operator requires all attendees to be vaccinated, allowing players to go without masks at the table.
Following the WSOP tweet, Nevada’s governor replied to the announcement. He said that vaccination of a large number of residents would be the quickest way for the state’s economy to recover. Sisolak noted that he was encouraged by the efforts various businesses applied to ensure people got vaccinated, tagging WSOP as one of these businesses.
Flexibility Is Required in This Pandemic and in the 2021 WSOP
World Series of Poker has made numerous COVID-19 updates. This is because the pandemic is influencing multiple decisions which keep changing with the recommendation from CDC.
It started with WSOP moving the 2021 event from spring/summer to the fall. The decision was not big of a deal. However, Kevin Mathers shed light on Rule #115, which indicated that WSOP would eliminate players from the 2021 tournament if they were in contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, which led to different opinions from players.
Players were worried they would be disqualified as a result of not fault on their part. But, the operator clarified the rule shortly after. The clarification indicated that players would not be disqualified if they were vaccinated and asymptomatic for being near a coronavirus-positive person.
At the end of August, WSOP dropped another announcement requiring all players to prove that they are vaccinated. This new announcement further divided the poker community between those who supported the safety protocol and those unvaccinated.
Last week, WSOP made another update, saying that WSOP Team Members were encouraged to get vaccinated but giving them the freedom not to. Again, this created an uproar even though the clarification was already agreed upon by staff.
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