After being closed nearly four months due to the pandemic, Blue Lake Casino will reopen Monday, according to Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe Communications Manager Andrea Marvin.
As was the case at the Bear River and Cher-Ae Heights casinos, the reopening will take place under “an abundance of caution,” a press release states, with several new health and safety protocols. The announcement comes as Humboldt County has confirmed 42 new COVID-19 cases over the past 15 days.
Casino occupancy will be limited to 30 percent of the pre-pandemic maximum, with half of the slot machines removed and half of the table games open, according to the press release. Protective shields will be set up between dealers and players, chips will be sanitized regularly and surfaces will be wiped down every hour. Thermal cameras have been installed at the entrances and guests will be required to wear masks on the casino floor.
The casino’s restaurants — Alice’s, Lily Pad, and Sushi Blue — are limiting parties to 10 people or fewer, and tables are all spaced 6 feet apart. No food or beverages will be allowed on the casino floor.
The Blue Lake Hotel opened to guests a couple of weeks ago, and housekeepers and inspectors have been wearing face shields, gowns and gloves during their cleaning duties. In addition, sneeze guards are set up around the property and physical distancing stickers in the lobby instruct guests on how to keep their distance during check-in and check-out. The tribe has asked that guests ride in elevators only with their parties.
“All of the tribe’s employees have been briefed and trained on the new health and safety guidelines,” the press release stated. “In addition, the tribe partnered with United Indian Health Services to give employees a COVID-19 antibody test, a crucial step toward safely reopening. A second COVID-19 test will be offered to employees in mid-July at the county’s pop-up site on the rancheria.”
It's worth noting that there's currently no medical consensus on whether or for how long someone who's had the virus would be immune from re-infection, so it's unclear exactly why the rancheria deemed the antibody testing a "crucial step" to reopening safely.
Tribal leadership and emergency staff will continue to monitor federal, state, and local guidelines and watch the number of local COVID-19 cases. "If necessary, tribal leadership is prepared to close the casino again if the number of COVID-19 cases locally begins to surge," the press release stated.