Do plexiglass dividers at poker tables actually help stop COVID-19 spread?

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on 01/26/2021

Many poker rooms have implemented plexiglass dividers at the tables to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but do they actually help? According to the experts, the answer is a bit complicated.

If you’ve played live poker over the past year you’ve likely spent some time playing from behind those plastic clear dividers. This is especially true for poker in Las Vegas where plexiglass dividers are now the norm.

For some, these partitions give them some peace of mind while they’re playing poker. They feel as if they can safely sit down and play cards without having to worry about catching the coronavirus.

Plexiglass dividers have become common in more places than just the poker rooms. You’ve probably seen them at gas stations, banks, restaurants, and other businesses separating customers from the employees.

The Environmental Health and Safety Department, partnered with the University of Washington, conducted research in October on the effectiveness of plexiglass barriers in preventing the spread of COVID-19. As the epidemiologists discovered, there were some benefits to the partitions, but also some drawbacks.

Good and bad of plexiglass dividers

From a poker playing perspective, many players have complained that the plexiglass partitions are bothersome and uncomfortable and thus ruin the experience of playing live poker. Others are more concerned with being safe while playing cards.

According to researchers, plexiglass dividers can block respiratory droplets produced by a person who is in close contact with the barrier. COVID-19 is spread person to person through air droplets via sneezing, speaking, singing, or coughing.

The barriers also force poker players to social distance in a way, one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Another benefit of the dividers is that they give poker dealers and players some peace of mind why they are playing or working.

But if you think the dividers make it impossible for you to catch COVID-19 at the poker table, you’re sadly mistaken. According to the research, “barriers do not provide a zero-risk solution. They do not address all possible modes of transmission, such as aerosol transmission, or fully protect anyone from COVID19.”

Barriers also don’t replace the need for social distancing. So, just because you’re seated behind a plexiglass divider doesn’t mean you can’t catch the virus from someone else at the table.

As the study indicates, wearing face masks covering the mouth and nose is equally helpful in preventing the spread of COVID-19. If everyone at the table is masked up from behind a plexiglass partition, it won’t be as easy for the virus to spread around the table. But it certainly won’t be impossible.

Glass or plexiglass partitions, according to most epidemiologists, are more effective in giving employees and customers a peace of mind than preventing the spread of COVID-19. There’s risk involved in catching the virus no matter where you go these days. That includes the poker room, especially the card rooms that don’t require face coverings or have plexiglass dividers at the table.

Featured image source: Poker.org News