Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise announces a soft reopening on March 19
Fire Rock Navajo Casino and Northern Edge Navajo Casino to initially open at 25%
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise announces a soft reopening starting March 19 for a two-week initial opening with limited services for Fire Rock and Northern Edge Casinos.
Temporary operating protocols operating hours 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily. A maximum of 25 percent capacity and only Navajo Nation residents are allowed at the two casinos. There will be no food or beverage offerings. The Navajo Blue Travel Plaza continues to operate on a 24/7 schedule.
“We have an extensive Reopening and Workplace Safety Plan and it is our hope that after the two-week soft opening period, the NNGE will be in a position to welcome back all of our patrons and also reopen the Flowing Water Navajo Casino and the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort,” said Brian Parrish, interim chief executive officer.
NNGE Board Chairman Quincy Natay said the top priority of NNGE is the health and safety of its team members, patrons and the Dine’ people. He said NNGE developed a comprehensive reopening and workplace safety plan and worked with disease prevention Saskia Popescu and infection disease management specialist Jordan Schemerhorn to refine and confirm the quality of its plan.
Additional refinements were made based on a review by the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President, Navajo Department of Health, Navajo Health Command Operations and the Indian Health Service.
“NNGE has pulled together a plan that really shows Navajo Nation leading the entire country in a smart, careful return to normalcy,” Schermerhorn said in an email to Frances Sjoberg, NNGE’s outside council. “Combined with the Navajo Nation’s outstanding vaccine rollout, this soft reopening shows what is possible with a data-driven pandemic response in a community dedicated to public safety.”
NNGE’s Plan is consistent with NDOH’s Navajo Nation Reopening Plan, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Indian Gaming Commission and states guidelines for business reopening.
A plan showing NNGE’s respect and protection of Navajo people and the broader community through preparedness, safety protocols and special care for elders and vulnerable individuals.
The two-week soft reopening period will allow casino employees to fully implement all COVID-19 safety procedures, protocols and practices.
These safety measures include:
• Requiring employees to receive a negative COVID-19 test result before returning to work and re- testing every two weeks thereafter and or as required if circumstances suggest additional testing.
• Requiring customers to go through a temperature screening process and provide contact information upon entry. Customers who do not pass the temperature screening process will not be permitted access to the property.
• Implementing a dedicated “Navajo Cares” cleaning crew with unique identifying shirts to properly and frequently sanitize surfaces with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) List-N disinfectants approved to destroy COVID-19. Customers will be able to initiate cleaning of slot machines by pressing a service light button that prompts a Navajo Cares crew member to immediately sanitize the machine.
• Implementing, during the daily closure, a minimum four-hour period of additional deep-cleaning of the public and employee-only areas of each facility.
• Implementing a rigorous and consistent enforcement of social distancing.
• Employees and customers are required to wear masks in accordance with Navajo Nation and CDC guidelines. Bandanas and neck gaiters may not be used as a mask.
• Navajo Nation guidelines provide that the masks should fit snugly covering the nose and mouth to prevent the wearer from breathing unfiltered air. CDC guidelines recommend medical procedure masks (sometimes referred to as surgical masks or disposable masks), two or three layers, or tightly woven breathable fabric that does not let light pass through.
• Mask wearing will be mandated by both customers and team members no exceptions. Customers who do not comply will not be allowed to stay.
• Smoking will not be permitted inside the buildings and will only be allowed outdoors in designated areas with limited occupancy and social distancing. Use of smokeless tobacco products will not be allowed in the building.
Special care for elders and vulnerable people
NNGE is implementing a special access program for elders sixty and older. This will elevate safety with elders being able to visit during dedicated morning hours after the property has undergone nightly cleaning.
Elder hours will occur on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Elders may bring two guests each (subject to available capacity based on occupancy limits). Guests of elders do not need to be over 60 years old.
NDOH and casino management will review casino safety procedures, protocols and practices at the end of the two-week period and determine readiness to further expand the phased opening process.