FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Two casinos on the Navajo Nation will reopen this week as the tribe eases its restrictions on businesses amid a downturn in coronavirus cases.
The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise has four casinos but will open only two Friday and limit patrons to those who live on the vast reservation that stretches into New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.
The enterprise will keep Fire Rock east of Gallup, New Mexico, and Northern Edge in Farmington, New Mexico, open for two weeks before determining whether to reopen two other casinos — one in northwestern New Mexico and the other east of Flagstaff.
The casinos will operate at 25% capacity with no food or drink services at reduced hours. All employees must test negative for COVID-19 before they return to work and be retested at least every two weeks. Customers must wear masks, get their temperatures checked and provide their contact information.
Service lights on the slot machines will let customers request that the machines be sanitized.
Smoking will be allowed only in designated outdoor areas. Social distancing will be enforced throughout the properties.
The casinos also are setting aside a couple of hours on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings for elderly patrons.
The Navajo Nation reported its first case of the coronavirus a year ago, on March 17, 2020. The tribe is planning a virtual day of prayer Friday to remember the more than 1,200 people who have died.
“We recognize the hardships, sacrifices and losses that our people continue to endure and we pray for protection and recovery from COVID-19, and we thank our health care workers and frontline workers who put themselves in harm’s way to help our Navajo people to save countless lives,” Navajo President Jonathan Nez said in a statement.
As of Tuesday, the tribe reported 29,957 cases of the coronavirus and 1,219 deaths.