WSOP Main Event Players May Face COVID Quarantine Request in New Jersey

Posted on: November 17, 2020, 10:02h. 

Last updated on: November 18, 2020, 09:46h.

Players heading to New Jersey to take part in next month’s World Series of Poker Main Event may be asked to stay in their hotel rooms for the duration of their trip to the Garden State.

World Series of Poker New Jersey
World Series of Poker Main Event contestants who choose to play online in New Jersey may be asked, depending on where they live, to quarantine in their hotel rooms, including Caesars Atlantic City, upon arrival in the state. That’s based on the state’s current travel guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Image: Caesars Entertainment)

That’s because New Jersey has one of the largest and most complex COVID-19 travel advisories in the country. According to the state’s COVID-19 Information Hub, officials ask visitors from states or US territories with “a significant degree of community-wide spread” to stay at a home, hotel, or other temporary shelter for two weeks upon their arrival. The guidelines state those quarantining should only break quarantine to get essentials.

Travelers are also asked – but not required – to fill out an online survey that asks for their name, phone number, their destination, and what COVID hotspots they’ve been in recently.

“The self-quarantine is voluntary, but compliance is expected,” the state’s website says.

The Main Event, delayed from earlier this year because of the pandemic, is using a hybrid format this year. That includes holding separate US and International tournaments, with online sessions in both, until they each get down to nine finalists. In the US, online play will take place Dec. 13-14. The US finalists are scheduled to play live at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino on Dec. 28, with the US winner set to meet the International winner two days later.

However, the US online tournament is only available in New Jersey and Nevada, as are daily satellite events to qualify for the Main Event. That means people from other states will have to travel to either state to compete. Caesars Entertainment is offering special rates at its properties in Las Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City for competitors.

Unlike New Jersey, Nevada has not issued a travel advisory.

Stay in Place Upon Arrival

When asked for clarification on New Jersey’s self-quarantine policy, Jerrel Harvey, a deputy press secretary for Gov. Phil Murphy, confirmed to that travelers staying at hotels are expected to stay in their rooms for the quarantine period.

As indicated, individuals should leave the place of self-quarantine — their hotel room in your example — only to seek medical care/treatment or to obtain food and other essential items,” Harvey said in an email.

Staying in the hotel room may not necessarily be a major issue for Main Event competitors, provided the Internet signal is strong. WSOP organizers expect the first day of online play to last about 12 hours, starting at 3 pm ET/noon PT. Second-day action will start at the same time and continue until the field is whittled down to nine players.

Caesars officials did not respond to a request for comment.

What States are on New Jersey’s List?

The states and territories on New Jersey’s advisory can change on a weekly basis. States are placed on the list when they have either a seven-day rolling average positivity rate of 10 percent or higher, or a seven-day rolling average number of daily new cases that exceeds 10 per 100,000 residents.

As of Tuesday, 46 states and territories meet at least one of those criteria.

States and territories not on the list include Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania, and the US Virgin Islands. New Jersey exempts its regional neighbors — Connecticut, Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania — from the quarantine because of  the heavy volume of traffic between the states. But the state still discourages nonessential travel within the region.

In addition, those traveling to New Jersey for essential business purposes may receive an exemption from the quarantine request.

As the advisory list is subject to change weekly, it’s also possible New Jersey officials may decide to change the policy before the Main Event takes place. Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York initiated the 14-day advisory plan in June as part of their regional effort to keep COVID cases from rising.

Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an alternative to the two-week self-quarantine guideline. The alternative calls for a traveler to test negative for the virus within three days before they depart for New York. They must quarantine for three days upon arrival and then take a second test in New York. If that test is negative, they are allowed to leave the quarantine