After two and a half months shuttered, Mexico’s tribal casinos started reopening
In light of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic Mexico has shut down all non-essential businesses on the 23rd of March, including the whole entertainment sector such as casinos. Two and a half months later, on 1st June, Mexico’s government announced the slow reopening of its economy and allowed businesses such as breweries, restaurants, salons and gyms to open, provided they limit their capacities.
The entertainment sector with its large venues, like opera and theater houses, zoos and non tribal casinos, weren't on the reopening list. Nevertheless Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sees a chance for them to reopen in the future.
Despite the government’s warning, several tribal casinos decided to go back to business and open their doors for gamers. Since tribal casinos are controlled by sovereign nations the state has no power to intervene and force them to stay closed.
Lujan Grisham urged them to remain closed facing the actual development of the cases, since the number is still increasing.
Spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett highlighted that “all casinos are strongly, unequivocally encouraged to remain closed at this time, just like other entertainment facilities, due to the risk of COVID-19 spread”. Otherwise the entities are “exposing patrons and the community in which it is situated to enormous risk of infection and spread.”
According to Santa Fe New Mexico, the reopening casinos are Isleta Casino & Resort in Albuquerque, Ohkay Hotel Casino in Ohkay Owingeh and Taos Mountain Casino in Taos.
To reduce the risk of infections, the casinos are taking precautionary measures. Gamblers are required to wear face masks. Shields and Plexiglas dividers should also be put up between slot machines. Taos casino measures their patron’s temperature before entering the casino. It is required to maintain 6 feet of distance and disinfect hands.
Not all tribal casinos decided to resume work, particularly those outside Santa Fe, for instance Tesuque Casino and Pojoaque Pueblo’s Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino.
Mexico is one of the most suffering countries in Latin America with almost 22,000 COVID-19 deaths and more than 180,000 confirmed cases.
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