CdA Casino to reopen May 1 with mask, social distancing requirements

Friday 24th April 2020

The Coeur d'Alene Casino is set to reopen May 1, according to the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Council.

But that won't happen without strict safety measures, including a requirement for everyone to wear masks, increased distance between seating at restaurants, lounges and games, plexiglass barriers in some locations and enhanced cleaning.

All concerts and large events have been rescheduled, according to the tribal council. The Spa Ssakwa'q'n, the High Mountain Buffet, bingo and horse race will remain closed initially.

The Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort Hotel will reopen in a limited capacity on April 27.

"Our guests and our employees are like family to us so this time has been difficult for everyone. We are excited to open our doors after such a lengthy, but necessary closure," said casino CEO Laura Stensgar in a statement.

The casino closed on March 20, five days before Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced his statewide stay-home order, which is set to expire April 30.

Little outlined a phased plan Thursday to begin reopening Idaho during the course of eight weeks as long as the state's downward trend of infections continues. Restaurant dining rooms, gyms and hair salons won't open until mid-May under that plan.

"We made the difficult decision to enact an early stay-home order and shut down the casino, which is an essential tribal operation that keeps many of our other vital programs running," Ernie Stensgar, chairman of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, said in a statement. "Our swift and deliberate actions worked to keep our community safe. The curve has flattened in our region."

Casino employees did not lose their jobs, wages or benefits during the closure, according to the tribal council.

At the point the casino closed, Kootenai County had reported three cases, according to the Panhandle Health District. It had 59 on Thursday, an increase of 10 from last week.

The reservation itself, along with Benewah County, where the tribe is headquartered in Plummer, have no confirmed cases.

The Tribal Council also announced it plans to reopen the rest of the reservation in phases.

"Based on local trends and the consistently low number of confirmed cases in the region, we believe we can safely start to reopen the reservation," Stensgar said. "Protecting lives and protecting livelihoods don't have to be mutually exclusive. We have a plan that we believe can do both and frankly, it is time to take action."

The tribal council appointed a task force to formulate that plan in line with federal guidelines for social distancing and sanitation.

The Spokane Tribe of Indians went into a partial shutdown - including the closure of the Spokane Tribe Casino in Airway Heights - in mid-March and could reopen May 4, in line with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's planned stay-home order expiration.

The Kalispel Tribe of Indians shut down much of its reservation on March 16 after a visitor to the Northern Quest Resort & Casino in Airway Heights tested positive for COVID-19. Officials have not announced any plans to reopen.

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