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Massachusetts coronavirus spread forces casino closures

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted to close the state's three casinos because of the coronavirus or COVID-19 spread.

BOSTON, Massachusetts — Editor's note: The above video shows you how to make hand sanitizer. MaineHealth's Dora Mills gives NEWS CENTER Maine the recipe. 

Massachusetts' three casinos are expected to cease gambling operations by Sunday morning after a unanimous vote from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Saturday prompted by the spread of the new coronavirus.

Gaming floors at Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino are expected to close to gamblers at 6 a.m. Sunday, the commission announced.

"In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the decision was made in collaboration and cooperation with our licensees to safeguard the health and well-being of casino guests, employees, and regulators," the commission said in a statement.

The Encore group released a statement Saturday morning detailing help for their employees.

"The Company will pay all full-time employees during this period as it evaluates the impact of the temporary closure. A limited number of employees and management will remain at the resort to secure, sanitize and maintain the facility."

The closure will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

The announcement came as Gov. Charlie Baker announced that Massachusetts has created a coronavirus response command center and is relaxing requirements on who can be tested for COVID-19.

The commonwealth has among the most cases in the United States, 123 as of Friday.

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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