Several Tribal Casinos Announce Reopenings

Ceci Partridge

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Three tribal casinos in Southern California are set to reopen Friday after being shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced Tuesday.

Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa near Cabazon plans to open its hotel, casino and some of its restaurants at 2 p.m. with added safety measures, including temperature screenings and limited guest capacity, according to the Morongo Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians.

The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians also will reopen its Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella and Tortoise Rock Casino in Twentynine Palms at 10 a.m., also with new protective measures, including recently purchased air purification equipment and mandatory face coverings.

“We chose to close the Spotlight 29 and the Tortoise Rock casinos as a proactive measure to protect our guests and employees from exposure to the virus,” said tribal Chairman Darrell Mike in a statement. “We have utilized this downtime to thoroughly clean every aspect of our operations and feel comfortable slowly reopening some aspects of the gaming areas, restaurants, and bars.

“We take the threat of this virus very seriously and will carefully monitor all aspects of all of our operations to ensure they surpass the protocol guidelines we have put in place.”

Additional safety measures slated for Spotlight 29 and Tortoise Rock casinos include mandatory coronavirus testing for employees before they are allowed to return to work; mandatory temperature checks at the door for all guests, employees and vendors; and mandatory face coverings, officials said.

Tribal officials announced that 50% of the slot chairs have been removed in order to encourage social distancing between players.

Both casinos will close daily from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. for deep cleaning, on top of the “state-of-the-art UV air purification and ionization system” officials will be deploying at both casinos.

The Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians announced it would reopen its Soboba Casino near San Jacinto at noon Wednesday, May 27, with new measures in place designed to guard against COVID-19.

New measures include temperature checks with thermal cameras, a requirement that staff and visitors wear masks, and a smoking ban on the casino floor, although there will be designated smoking areas. Additionally, decals on the floor will help with social distancing, and plexiglass barriers will be installed at service counter areas.

The Soboba hotel, on the other hand, will remain closed until further notice, according to the casino’s website.

Last week, Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula set a June 1 target for reopening with similar measures.

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