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COOS COUNTY — After exactly two months of being closed because of COVID-19, the Mill Casino opened back up on Monday May 18, the first in the state. Three Rivers Casino will open Friday, May 22, and Chinook Winds Casino Resort will open today (May 21).

According to a press release from the Mill Casino, 300 people will be allowed on the floor at one time.

“We looked at the guidelines similar to what Walmart or Safeway will do for capacity to ensure that the social distancing measures are in place,” said Coquille Indian Tribe Chairman Brenda Meade on how capacity was determined.

While the state has offered clear guidelines on how retail stores and restaurants should open up, there have not been recommendations on how casinos should proceed during this time.

“Because the Tribes are sovereign nations, the state does not provide guidance for casino reopenings. But, Tribes have been sharing information with the Oregon Health Authority and our office, and we’re encouraging counties to work and consult with the Tribes as well,” said Press Secretary Liz Merah of Governor Kate Brown’s office.

Coos County received information on the Mill Casino’s plan to reopen.

“We had received notification from the Coquille with the details of their Safe Play plan," said Coos County Commissioner Melissa Cribbins in a text to The World. "They will be screening at the door and providing PPE to their guests. They are confident that this plan will provide protection for their guests."

“Tribes are not subject to county or state laws, and the federal government never put into place restrictions on gathering sizes," Cribbins added. "Because of the lack of federal regulations, each tribe makes its decision on reopening based on what they believe is best for them and their customers.”

On Friday, select businesses in the county, including restaurants, reopened as part of the Phase One reopening plan around the state.

“It’s not the state that closed the casino, it was the decision of each of the tribal governments," Meade said, who noted they have been working with the county and state. "I think all of the tribes are looking at the guidelines and policies and looking to implement a reopening. I think that there are so many things that have to be implemented, training programs for employees and all those things, that each one of them will have to make decisions on when they open and when they feel comfortable to open."

With the reopening, the Mill Casino has offered a set of protocols aimed at helping safety.

All guests and employees will have their temperatures taken upon entry. Employees will be wearing masks while guests, who will have masks provided to them, will be required to have a mask but will not be required to wear them.

Every other slot machine will not be in use to create more physical spacing and table games will not be taking place at this time. Hand sanitizer stations have been added to the casino floor.

“We’ve missed all of our friends during the closure. As we reopen, we want to let you know that we’re committed to the health and safety of you, our employees and our community,” said a Mill Casino press release.

The buffet at the casino will be closed and food service will be take-out. Smoking will still be allowed on the casino floor.

Three Rivers Casino

In a press release from The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians of Oregon Tribal Council, officials announced Friday its plans to reopen the Three Rivers Casino Resorts in both Coos Bay and Florence.

The casinos are set to reopen on Friday, May 22. According to the press release, the executive management team at the casino has written “reopening safety guidelines” for staff and guest to follow which are in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and the Oregon Health Authority.

“The guidelines include temperature checks and required wearing of masks for both guests and team members,” said the press release. “Guests are asked to bring their own masks.  Points of entry will be limited to the main doors all other doors are for exit only.”

Staff has rearranged the casino floor to better follow social distancing guidelines and has set up additional hand sanitizers throughout the casino. Recently acquiring several cordless electrostatic sprayers, the casino will increase its cleaning of every guest touch point, hotel rooms, the gaming floor and its restaurants and office spaces, according to the release.

“We are looking forward to seeing our guests back at both properties,” said Rich Colton, marketing director at Three Rivers Casino. “For everyone’s safety, we are strongly encouraging everyone to be as safe as possible by reading and following our guidelines.”

For additional information on the reopening of the Three Rivers Casino Resort, visit its website at www.threeriverscasino.com.

Chinook Winds Casino Resort

Last week, the Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City also announced on its website that it will reopen its doors on Thursday, May 21.

"As the state begins to open, the Siletz Tribal Council has made the decision to reopen Chinook Winds Casino Resort, in phases, to ensure safety of the team members, guests and Tribal members," read a press release from the Chinook Winds Casino Resort. 

With safety being its top priority, the casino is continuing to follow health and safety guidelines to stop and slow down the spread of COVID-19. 

“We want to thank everyone in the community, our team members and Tribal members for their patience in waiting to hear about our plans for reopening," said Michael Fisher, the general manager at Chinook Winds Resort. "We are ready to welcome all those who feel safe to visit."

As part of its reopening, the casino has modified its hours of operations and implemented a number of changes including limiting access to some of its amenities, enhancing its cleaning methods and setting up physical distancing guidelines.

According to its website, the casino will have about 50 percent of its slot machines available, its casino occupancy limited to 1,000 guests and its dining services will also be modified to spacing out tables and seating and disinfecting areas such as stools, chairs, bar tops and dining tables after each use.

Guests and staff will also be required to wear face masks and will have their temperatures will be checked using non-invasive, no-contact infrared thermometers.

For a full lists of its restrictions and guidelines, visit the Chinook Winds Casino Resort’s website at www.chinookwindscasino.com.

Reporter Zachary Silva can be reached at 541-266-6036 or by email at worldsports2@countrymedia.net.

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