PHOENIX - Several Arizona casinos have partially reopened with new sanitizing protocols and social distancing measures in place about two months after slot machines were shut down and gaming rooms were closed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
According to a press release, the locations are being deep cleaned, and plexiglass shields will installed on machines. Guests will have their temperatures scanned and employees will be regularly screened.
Masks will also be provided and required for guests and staff.
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Hotel and Casino in Maricopa and Fort McDowell Casino near Fountain Hills reopened at least partially on May 15 when Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order expired. The three casinos the Gila River Indian Community runs in the southern part of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area were set to resume partial operations at midday on May 15.
The Ak-Chin Tribal Council earlier approved the reopening of its casino, with slot machine banks arranged to allow for social distancing and limited seating at blackjack tables. Poker, keno, and bingo games are not resuming yet.
“We look forward to welcoming back our casino guests,” Robert Livingston, the casino’s general manager, said in a statement.
Along with instituting new social distancing and sanitizing measures, the casino that belongs to the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation will conduct temperature checks using handheld scanners and thermal cameras. Anyone with a reading over 100 will be denied entry.
On its website, Gila River Hotels & Casinos is encouraging visitors to “RECLAIM YOUR FUN” at the Lone Butte and Wild Horse Pass casinos near Chandler and the Vee Quiva in Laveen.
“We are so excited to welcome you back. It’s time to reclaim your time, freedom and fun,” the online message says. “We’ve taken extensive measures to ensure the safety of our guests.”
The Gila River site said casinos would have new non-smoking sections on slot machine floors that observe social distancing and hard plastic shields had been installed in key areas including the cashier cage and some dining venues. Hand sanitizing stations were being prepared at entrances and social distancing will be encouraged throughout with signs and marks on the floor.
Visitors will be asked whether they have any symptoms like a fever or dry cough and will be encouraged to wear masks. Fewer people will be allowed in the gaming areas at the same time.
As for other casinos around Arizona, Bucky’s & Yavapai Casinos in Prescott Valley announced this week they will reopen June 1.
Mazatzal Hotel & Casino in Payson Tuesday extended its shutdown but did not specify a reopening date.
Talking Stick Resort and Casino and Casino Arizona near Scottsdale previously announced they would remain closed through May. They said the owner and operator, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, was fully compensating staff during the closure.
Cliff Castle Casino in Camp Verde and Twin Arrows Casino Resort in Flagstaff say they will remain closed for now.
Arizona’s Department of Gaming has said each casino’s decision to close is being decided by the individual sovereign tribal nations.
Casinos remain closed in Las Vegas and the rest of Nevada, where the economy is heavily dependent on gambling and tourism in general. Nevada gambling officials last week approved rules to limit customers, keep gamblers spaced apart from each other and disinfect dice and cards when the state’s casinos do reopen.
But Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak has said gambling venues will not be among businesses restarting activities during the first phase of Nevada’s reopening.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
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- How coronavirus differs from flu: Symptoms to watch for
Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu.
Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough, and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, or heart conditions.
Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus, but may put you in a better position to fight it.
To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.
And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.