lmost sixty days after closing their doors to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and North Carolina are beginning to lay out a framework for easing restrictions and begin a gradual reopening of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley Rivers.
The casinos, owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and operated by Caesars Entertainment, are looking forward to a return to operation, but with extensive health and safety precautions in place for the safety of employees and guests, according to Citizen Tribune.
Areas such as the gaming floor, hotel, and some restaurants, where social distancing can be practiced will be the first to open, with significant limitations on occupancy. Areas where social distancing is not possible, such as the spa, valet, poker, buffet, and concerts, will have to remain closed until it is appropriate to reopen.
To make social distancing possible, access to the casinos will be by invitation only at first with small groups of customers receiving the invitation by email starting as early as May 13. During this initial phase, only invited guests will be able to make hotel reservations or access the properties. The number of invitations may increase over time as it becomes appropriate to do so. Members of the EBCI will also be able to access both casinos during this period of time.
Given this phased reopening, furloughed employees will begin returning to work as their respective work areas ramp up operation. Before beginning work, each employee will complete a screening, which will include a questionnaire and temperature check, and be required to wear a face mask while on duty.
Reflecting on the closure, Brooks Robinson, Senior Vice President and General Manager said "This is uncharted territory for the casino industry, but what is clear is that when we return to work it will not be exactly as it was prior to closing. We look forward to welcoming back our guests and team members, also understanding that social distancing is going to be a part of our business and lives for a while."