San Diego County casinos have begun reopening with restrictions after being closed for more than two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The casinos follow the sovereign authority of their respective tribes.
The reopenings came with noticeable modifications. Here's what each casino says they are doing to ensure the safety of their guests and employees.
Viejas Casino and Resort
Viejas Casino and Resort reopened its casino, restaurants and hotel on May 18 with signage to remind guests of safety protocols and social distancing guidelines.
A security guard at Viejas Casino told NBC 7 that by 11 a.m., the building was at a revised half-capacity to ensure social distancing. A long line of people waiting to get inside stretched from the front entrance.
To ensure social distancing, the casino will utilize every other slot machine and table games will be limited to three seated players. Bingo and Off Track Betting will remain closed.
Sanitary measures include closing the casino for four hours overnight for a deep cleaning and UV germicidal treatment and adding hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the resort.
Sycuan Casino and Resort
Sycuan reopened on May 20. The casino and resort said all visitors will be screened upon entrance and required to wear a face covering. The casino will reopen in phases with some gaming machines, restaurants, and other amenities remaining closed at first, the casino said.
The casino also said it is using self-cleaning antimicrobial coating throughout the property, thermal cameras at entrances, plexiglass shields, personal protective equipment, and more. Read all about Sycuan's sanitation program here.
Jamul reopened for certain rewards members on May 18, but it reopened to the general public at 10 a.m. on May 21. All guests and employees must wear face coverings.
Guests and employees will be screened upon entrance by infrared thermometers and anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, or exhibiting signs of illness will not be allowed inside, according to the casino.
Jamul said it will reduce seating, shut off certain gaming machines, and control entry and exit to facilitate distancing and occupancy.
During this first phase of reopening, there will not be shuttle or valet services, entertainment (DJs or live bands), buffets, or promotions, according to the casino. Read more about Jamul's health measures here.
Valley View Casino and Resort
Valley View said on its website that it reopened its casino, restaurants and hotel with spacing on May 22 at 8 a.m.
Modifications include requiring guests to wear face masks, according to a letter from General Manager Bruce Howard. He did not elaborate on the exact precautionary measures the resort was taking.
Pala Casino Spa & Resort
Pala Casino confirmed to NBC 7 that it reopened on May 22 at 10 a.m.
The casino said it implemented precautionary measures such as cleaning and disinfecting protocols that focus on "high touch areas," conduct temperature screenings at the entrance, reducing the number of seats offered at each table game, and enforcing a 6 feet social distancing.
The reopening will be presented in phases that will allow the resort to gradually reopen the gaming floor, hotel, restaurants, bars, and entertainment options.
To read more on Pala's sanitation plan, click here.
Harrah's Resort Southern California
Harrah's announced that it will also reopen on May 22 at noon. The casino said it has implemented guidelines such as requiring everyone to wear face masks and temperature checks.
In addition to the designated non-smoking area on the casino floor, smoking will not be permitted at all table games and bars, the casino said.
Many areas will remain closed until further notice including the hotel, buffet, poker room, and The Spa at Harrah's. Read all about Harrah's sanitation plan here.
Barona Resort & Casino
Barona said it will reopen in phases beginning on May 27.
The entire casino will be non-smoking and all guests and staff must wear facial coverings. The resort will also have temperature screenings, limited capacity and increased cleaning protocols.
To read more on Barona's reopening and sanitation plan, click here.
On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote a letter asking San Diego-area casinos to reconsider opening its doors so soon and instead do so during Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan.
On the reopenings, San Diego County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten said, "As we have stated before, we are not in agreement... We do not have jurisdiction, so the best thing we can do is review the plans and ensure that there are at least measure built-in to prevent the spread.”
She said Monday she had seen reopening plans from Jamul and Sycuan casinos.
“The thing we have to do now is make sure we are monitoring any outbreaks in those facilities."
In response to the reopenings, County Supervisor Dianne Jacob released the following statement:
“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.”