TWENTYNINE PALMS — Tortoise Rock Casino will reopen at 10 a.m. Friday, allowing customers to gamble and visit the restaurant and bar with restrictions.
The casino is owned by the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians, which also announced it would reopen its casino in Coachella, Spotlight 29.
Both casinos were closed on March 19 as part of the effort to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
According to the tribe, employees received base pay and benefits for two work weeks after the closure.
Casinos across the state are reopening, despite a letter Gov. Gavin Newsom sent to all gaming tribes last week, urging them to wait until California moves into stage three of the reopening.
Stage three also includes nail and hair salons, gyms, in-person religious gatherings and movie theaters. California is currently in stage two.
The tribe has bought UV/ionization air purification equipment for Tortoise Rock and Spotlight 29.
Created by RGF Environmental Group Inc., the newly installed technology is used in health care facilities and has had documented success with validated test results showing over 99 percent reductions on similar viruses, Bogard said.
All customers and employees must wear protective masks to enter the casino and follow all rules for safety and compliance. If guests do not have masks, they will be provided free masks at the door.
Other protective measures put into place include the following:
• Employees will be tested for the new coronavirus before returning to work and will receive periodic testing for the foreseeable future.
• All guests, employees and vendors entering the casino will have their temperature checked.
• Every slot machine will be disinfected at least once per hour and after each use much as possible.
• Hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed throughout the casino floor and players will be encouraged and reminded to clean their hands frequently.
• Half of the slot chairs have been removed.
• Group gaming, including table games, will not be allowed.
• The casino restaurants and bars will enact social distancing protocols, including removing seating and restructuring public areas to provide adequate space.
“Local, state and national business are slowly starting to reopen after being temporarily closed to curtail the spread of the virus,” said tribal Chairman Darrell Mike.
“We have utilized this downtime to thoroughly clean every aspect of our operations and feel comfortable slowly reopening some aspects of the gaming areas, restaurants and bars. We take the threat of this virus very seriously and will carefully monitor all aspects of all of our operations to ensure they surpass the protocol guidelines we have put in place."