16 Mar Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise Announces A Soft Reopening on March 19
Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise Announces A Soft Reopening on March 19
Fire Rock Navajo Casino and Northern Edge Navajo Casino to Initially Open at 25%
Flagstaff, AZ – In partnership with Navajo Department of Health (NDOH), Navajo Nation’s Health Command Operations Center (HCOC) and Navajo Nation Leadership and the successful transition from red status to orange status of the Navajo Nation Reopening Plan. Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) has been authorized to conduct a soft reopening with limited services. Accordingly, NNGE Board of Directors approved a soft reopening of Fire Rock and Northern Edge Navajo Casinos on March 19, 2021 for a two-week initial opening.
“The top priority of Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE) is the health and safety of its team members, patrons and Dine’ People. In order to reopen responsibly, NNGE developed a comprehensive Reopening and Workplace Safety Plan and worked with infectious disease preventionist Saskia Popescu and infectious disease management specialist Jordan Schermerhorn, to refine and confirm the quality of the plan,” said NNGE Board Chairman Quincy Natay. Additional refinements were made based on review by Navajo Nation’s Office of the President and Vice President, Navajo Department of Health (NDOH), Navajo Health Command Operations Center and Indian Health Service.
Jordan Schermerhorn, a senior research associate at Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security, stated in an email to Frances Sjoberg, NNGE’s outside council, “NNGE has pulled together a plan that really shows Navajo Nation leading the entire country in a smart, careful return to normalcy. Combined with the Navajo Nation’s outstanding vaccine rollout, this soft reopening shows what is possible with a data-driven pandemic response in a community dedicated to public safety.”
NNGE’s Plan is consistent with NDOH’s Navajo Nation Reopening Plan, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Indian Gaming Commission and states guidelines for business reopening. A plan showing NNGE’s respect and protection of Navajo people and the broader community through preparedness, safety protocols and special care for elders and vulnerable individuals.
The two-week soft reopening period will allow casino employees to fully implement all COVID-19 safety procedures, protocols and practices. These safety measures include:
- Requiring employees to receive a negative COVID-19 test result before returning to work and re-testing every two weeks thereafter and or as required if circumstances suggest additional testing.
- Requiring customers to go through a temperature screening process and provide contact information upon entry. Customers who do not pass the temperature screening process will not be permitted access to the property.
- Implementing a dedicated “Navajo Cares” cleaning crew with unique identifying shirts to properly and frequently sanitize surfaces with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) List-N disinfectants approved to destroy COVID-19. Customers will be able to initiate cleaning of slot machines by pressing a service light button that prompts a Navajo Cares crew member to immediately sanitize the machine.
- Implementing, during the daily closure, a minimum four-hour period of additional deep-cleaning of the public and employee-only areas of each facility.
- Implementing a rigorous and consistent enforcement of social distancing.
- Employees and customers are required to wear masks in accordance with Navajo Nation and CDC guidelines. Bandanas and neck gaiters may not be used as a mask. Navajo Nation guidelines provide that the masks should fit snugly covering the nose and mouth to prevent the wearer from breathing unfiltered air. CDC guidelines recommend medical procedure masks (sometimes referred to as surgical masks or disposable masks), two or three layers, or tightly woven breathable fabric that does not let light pass through. Mask wearing will be mandated by both customers and team members no exceptions. Customers who do not comply will not be allowed to stay.
- Smoking will not be permitted inside the buildings and will only be allowed outdoors in designated areas with limited occupancy and social distancing. Use of smokeless tobacco products will not be allowed in the building.
Special Care for Elders and Vulnerable People
- NNGE is implementing a special access program for elders sixty and older. This will elevate safety with elders being able to visit during dedicated morning hours after the property has undergone nightly cleaning. Elder hours will occur on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM. Elders may bring two guests each (subject to available capacity based on occupancy limits). Guests of elders do not need to be over 60 years old.
Temporary Operating Protocols
- Operating hours 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily
- Maximum of 25 percent occupant capacity
- No food and beverage offerings
- Navajo Nation residents only allowed at Fire Rock and Northern Edge Casinos
- Navajo Blue Travel Plaza continues to operate on a 24/7 schedule
NDOH and casino management will review casino safety procedures, protocols and practices at the end of the two-week period and determine readiness to further expand the phased opening process.
“We have an extensive Reopening and Workplace Safety Plan and it is our hope that after the two-week soft opening period, the NNGE will be in a position to welcome back all of our patrons and also reopen the Flowing Water Navajo Casino and the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort,” stated Brian Parrish, Interim Chief Executive Officer.
Navajo Gaming is one of many Navajo Nation-owned and operated enterprises that is charged with the mission of creating jobs, increasing revenues and stimulating incremental economic development. For the latest news and information visit Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise’s website: www.navajogaming.com and Facebook page
Assistant General Manager Michele Landavazo takes Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer’s temperature before entering Navajo Blue Travel Plaza.
Navajo Nation Delegates Mark Freeland and Nathaniel Brown make purchases at Navajo Blue Travel Plaza. Plexiglass between patron and Team members.
A standard at all four Navajo Nation Casino properties, plexiglass between slot machines to protect patrons.
Masks will be mandated for all patrons and team members.