Several casinos in the greater Los Angeles area have reopened for Memorial Day weekend after nearly two months of being shut down due to the deadly coronavirus.
On Friday, Morongo Casino in Cabazon, located near Palm Springs in Riverside County, reopened at 2:00 p.m. Additional casinos Tortoise Rock, Agua Calient, and others located in Coachella Valley opened earlier on Friday. According to KTLA, Pechanga, also located in Riverside County, will open next week with Soboba near San Jacinto.
In addition to their reopening efforts, representatives for the casinos have stated that certain safety precautions and measures have been implemented. A few of those measures include limiting the number of customers inside at one time, temperature checks at entranceways, and a modified cleaning schedule. Those using table games and slot machines will also be spread out so that social distancing guidelines are met. Certain slot machines will also feature modified barriers. Certain casinos that have chosen to reopen have prohibited smoking and require all customers and employees to wear face masks.
Some restaurants within the casinos will also reopen, including Tortoise Rock and nearby Spotlight 29 casino. While Cielo, the steakhouse restaurant located at Morongo, is not set to reopen until next week, the food court located inside the casino will be open for gamers.
In recent weeks, California Gov. Gavin Newsom warned casinos against reopening their doors. Tribal land, which is federally protected, is not required to adhere to local guidelines. Last week, Newsom sent a letter to tribal leaders urging them to follow the state’s plan to reopen. It said:
I cannot stress enough that the risk of COVID-19 transmission remains a serious threat for all Californians. In the spirit of sovereign-to-sovereign engagement I respectfully request that until a surrounding or neighboring local jurisdiction has legally progressed into Stage 3, your tribal casinos remain closed.
Other counties, including Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Diego, have also begun efforts to reopen amid California’s strict stay-at-home mandates. Riverside County officials have stated that they will no longer enforce stay-at-home orders.