The Coeur d’Alene tribal gaming property in Idaho will reopen to the public on May 1 starting the gradual process nationwide of casinos resuming operations following COVID-19 closures.
Health precautions will be in place at Coeur d’Alene to limit the risk of transmitting coronavirus as gaming there resumes. That includes everyone on the property needing face masks or coverings.
Players and other guests should come with their own masks. The casino will have only limited facial coverings.
The casino will also implement strict social distancing. There will be beefed-up cleaning on the gaming floor, too, according to television station KHQ.
Among the other safety protocols in place will be having every other gaming machine turned off. Additionally, there will be limited seating in casino lounges or restaurants.
Plexiglass barriers were already installed. The casino will be closed between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. daily so crews can deep clean the interior.
On Monday, there will be a limited reopening of the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel. Health and safety are the top priorities for the tribe in the reopening.
No coronavirus cases were seen on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation or in Benewah County, KREM said. Kootenai County, where the casino is located, saw some 59 cases of coronavirus.
Statewide, Idaho saw some 1,760 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 56 virus-related deaths. Some 938 patients recovered.
“Based on local trends and the consistently low number of confirmed cases in the region, we believe we can safely start to reopen the reservation,” Ernie Stensgar, chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, explained in a statement. “Protecting lives and protecting livelihoods don’t have to be mutually exclusive. We have a plan that we believe can do both, and frankly, it is time to take action.”
Entertainment performances at the casino were postponed. The High Mountain Buffet, bingo, and off-track betting will not resume until later in the process.
Our guests and our employees are like family to us, so this time has been difficult for everyone. We are excited to open our doors after such a lengthy, but necessary closure,” Coeur d’Alene Casino CEO Laura Stensgar said in a statement.
The gaming property closed on March 20. That was five days before Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued a stay-at-home requirement in the state. His order is scheduled to end on May 1.
Statewide, Idaho stores and places of worship can reopen starting on May 1. Social distancing must be in place.
Next, between May 16 and 29, Idaho can reopen its restaurants, hair salons, nail salons, and gyms. It will take longer to reopen bars, nightclubs, and movie theaters.
During the shuttering, Coeur d’Alene casino workers still got paid, KREM reported. They also received benefits.
The tribe appointed a task force to plan for the gradual reopening of the reservation and its venues. The task force will continue to meet and monitor any changes in health conditions.
“We have put a lot of thought and effort into preparing to reopen in the safest way possible. Our team has worked with the medical professionals at Marimn Health to put together safety training for our employees and to outline social distancing and cleaning and sanitation protocols consistent with CDC recommendations,” Laura Stensgar said in the statement.
Casino crews will clean restrooms every hour, gaming machines will be sanitized many times during shifts, and frequently touched surfaces will be sanitized many times during the day. The casino has placed extra hand-sanitizer stations throughout the gaming floor.
Elsewhere, more than 500 tribal casinos were closed nationwide from the pandemic. Some others may start to reopen in May.
For instance, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s ilani casino resort in Washington state will remain closed through May 4, according to the Oregonian. Also, the Tonto Apache Tribe’s Mazatzal Hotel & Casino in Arizona may reopen May 15.
When it comes to tribal enterprises, which include casinos, and tribal governments, they account for the employment of about 1.1 million people in the US. Over 900,000 of these workers are non-Indians, according to a recent Harvard University study.
When it comes to commercial casinos, billionaire Phil Ruffin plans to reopen his Las Vegas casinos, Treasure Island and Circus Circus, on May 15. But the odds appear long that gaming will be permitted to resume operations on that date in Las Vegas.