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Long lines at Viejas Casino as it reopens to the public

Viejas is the first of four casinos to reopen in San Diego County this week.

ALPINE, Calif. — There were long lines at Viejas Casino Monday morning as the casino reopened to the public for the first time in about two months. The doors opened at 8 a.m. By 11:30 a.m. the casino was at maximum capacity and there was a wait to get inside.

"I think it's totally up to people whether [or not] they want to come," said Ernie Bjork. "If they feel safe, it's fine. If not, don't come."

Bjork was among some of the first customers inside the casino.

News 8 cameras were not allowed in the building.

"Before entering, they took our temperatures to make sure that we were okay," said Bjork.

"It looked like it was pretty busy," he added. "Some of the banks of machines were blocked out so people couldn't be on them. There was at least one empty machine between people."

By noon, the line stretched down the block, with busloads of people arriving.

One woman told News 8 she brought her mom to the casino just to get her out of the house. 

"It's boring being at home. I've been home a long time," she said.

At one point, a security guard said the wait to get inside could be as long as two hours.

Employees handed out water to people waiting. Some admitted they weren't sure if coming here was a good idea.

Meanwhile, Jamul Casino reopened to select casino customers Monday. The casino will reopen to the public Thursday.

All casinos have promised enhanced safety measures.

Bjork said inside Viejas, smoking is still allowed.

"I don't smoke," he said.  "I try to stay away from that, but yes, there were people smoking."

County Supervisor Dianne Jacob released this statement Monday:

"The safety of employees and customers should be the top priority of every business that is opening up or waiting to open up.  My preference is that businesses like these would be treated equally, but I'm encouraged that communication is taking place between some tribes and our public health officials."

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