The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has approved a variance to the state's safer-at-home order that will allow casinos in Black Hawk and Central City to reopen with some restrictions, three months after they were ordered by the state to close. The Gilpin County Board of Public Health voted Sunday morning to allow casinos to reopen in the two cities, beginning June 17.
CDPHE Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan informed the Gilpin County Board of Commissioners in a letter dated June 6 that the county's request had been approved, with some amendments.
Gilpin County’s 50-page request for a variance was approved Saturday. The Gilpin County Board of Public Health will approve a reopening and operation plan for every casino that will allow them to open their doors at 8 a.m. June 17. Teller County is seeking a variance to reopen the casinos in Cripple Creek.
“It is such an incredible relief and we know it’s still a very long haul,” Gilpin County Commissioner Ron Engels said Sunday, as reported by The Denver Post.
Only slot machines will be in operation at first. Engels said the CDPHE wants to wait three weeks before allowing the table games to resume to make sure a spike in coronavirus cases doesn’t occur.
The guidelines approved by the CDPHE include limiting a casino’s occupancy to 50% of the capacity allowed by the fire code, or 175 people in a confined, indoor space. Customers and employees will be screened for any symptoms of coronavirus and lines will be used to mark the six feet required for social distancing.
Engels said it will be a while before the businesses are back to full speed, but “we see hope now.” Roughly 6,000 people work in the Gilpin County casinos. Engels has said that since the casinos closed, the number of people seeking help at the county’s food bank has jumped fourfold. The cities and county have taken a big hit in tax revenue, he said.