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Spokane Tribe Casino reopening Thursday with new safety measures in place

UPDATED: Wed., May 13, 2020

The Spokane Tribe Casino is reopening Thursday with new safety protocols and equipment in place to ensure guest safety, including these clear plastic panels. The casino closed in mid-March to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Courtesy photo)
The Spokane Tribe Casino is reopening Thursday with new safety protocols and equipment in place to ensure guest safety, including these clear plastic panels. The casino closed in mid-March to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Courtesy photo)

The Spokane Tribe Casino is reopening Thursday with new protocols in place to protect the safety of its visitors, according to the Spokane Tribe of Indians.

The casino, which had been closed since mid-March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, will be checking temperatures of employees and guests upon arrival.

The casino will be operating at half-capacity and is requiring employees to wear masks.

Masks will not be required for visitors, although the casino encourages guests to wear them and is providing masks free of charge.

Other new protocols include implementing new daily hours of operation, from 8 a.m.-3 a.m., to allow for deep cleaning, and creating more space between slot machines, which will be separated by clear dividers to ensure social distancing on the casino floor.

“It was an expensive step, but we thought it was worth it,” said Javier De La Rosa, casino general managersaid, noting that the divider installation slowed the casino’s reopening butit was important to ensure guest safety.

Three Peaks Kitchen and Bar, Whaluks Bar and Speelya’s Den Deli will be open, but with seating configurations spaced for social distancing.

Table games will remain closed because of the face-to-face interaction that occurs between dealers and players, De La Rosa said.

“We want to see what the casino feels like before we open table games,” he said.

Another notable change is the casino will now be nonsmoking, De La Rosa said.

The Spokane Tribe consulted with Nevada-based Ammco Environmental Services on safety protocols it should consider before reopening the casino.

“What we learned from them is we were doing a lot of things right that complied with safety standards,” De La Rosa said.

The Spokane Tribe also reached out to Dr. Bob Lutz, Spokane County health officer, for guidance on reopening the casino.

“They’ve done an outstanding job with trying to mitigate the risk of individuals visiting there,” Lutz said, adding he appreciated that the Spokane Tribe reached out to the Spokane Regional Health District for guidance, because they are not legally required to do so.

“They had done a lot of really thoughtful work to make it a safer place for our community going forward,” Lutz said. “My takeaway is they really are concerned about the safety of their staff and customers.”

The Spokane Tribe Casino is also able to bring back its 250 employees, who remained on payroll during its nearly two-month closure.

“We thought it was best for our workforce to make sure that we take care of them. We didn’t lay off anybody,” De La Rosa said. “We take pride in the fact that we continued to pay everybody and we are ready to open a safer, cleaner place than we used to be.”

The Spokane Tribe Casino is the third to reopen in the region. The Northern Quest Resort & Casino and the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel in Idaho reopened earlier this month.

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