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San Diego casinos prepare to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic

Viejas Casino set to reopen on May 18

SAN DIEGO — The Viejas Casino & Resort in Alpine announced plans to reopen on May 18.

The casino has been closed for about two months in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but officials said that because California officials are poised to relax some of the stay-home orders and other measures, they are preparing to reopen soon.

"While Viejas has always maintained the highest level of cleanliness and safety, we have taken advantage of the recent closure to inspect, clean and sanitize every inch of the property," the casino said in a news release. "From floor to ceiling, no stone has been left unturned."

On its website it listed a number of new safety guidelines.

The reopening has drawn mixed reaction on social media. Some are calling the casino irresponsible, while others say they can't wait to visit.

Meanwhile, Sycuan Casino & Resort hasn't set a date to reopen yet, but General Manager Rob Cinelli says big changes are under way.

"All team members and guests will be required to wear masks," said Cinelli. "Our dealers will wear masks as well as face shields."

He said cleaning crews will spray everything with an anti-microbial spray. Fewer people will be allowed at the table games. Slot machine customers will have to spread out. 

The casino shuttles will allow fewer passengers onboard.

"We will have somebody taking temperatures on the shuttles," he added. "So anybody showing anything above 100° temperature will not be allowed to get on the shuttle."

State and local government have limited authority over casinos. Tribal officials say they have the legal right to reopen their casinos when they want. 

"Obviously there’s always a risk, that’s the world we live in right now," said Cinelli. "We’re doing everything we can to minimize that risk."

News 8 also checked with some of the other local casinos. 

Pechanga announced it is planning to reopen in early June. 

Barona and Jamul have not set reopening dates yet. 

Barona released the following statement:

While we have a team working on plans to reopen Barona Resort & Casino, we don’t have a target reopening date at this time.

Since our temporary closure in March, we have developed a phased plan for our reopening that focuses on significant public health measures to ensure the safety and cleanliness of Barona Resort & Casino.

Our first concern is always the health and wellness of our Tribal elders and Tribal community along with all of our staff, our players, and surrounding communities. Our plan has their well-being as our top priority and includes:

  • enhanced disinfecting protocols and increased sanitizing throughout the casino;
  • all staff members attend PPE training;
  • wellness screenings for staff and players including temperature checks;
  • social distancing policies and signage;
  • turning off every other slot machine and limiting table games to no more than three players per game to ensure social distancing;
  • plexiglass partitions installed property wide;
  • face masks required for all players and staff; and
  • increased availability of disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer stations throughout the entire property.

Everything that is implemented will enhance Barona’s already robust cleaning and safety protocols that include Barona’s triple-stage air filtration system which features germicidal UVC light technology that disinfects the air and kills 99% of germs and viruses.

As soon as the reopening date is confirmed, we will share this information.

We look forward to safely welcoming our players home to Barona.

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