Cherokee Nation casinos to temporarily suspend operations
TAHLEQUAH – In addition to the Cherokee Nation postponing and canceling upcoming Tribal Council and community meetings, gatherings and events because of COVID-19 concerns, the tribe and Cherokee Nation Businesses announced on March 16 they will temporarily suspend all operations at Cherokee Nation Entertainment casinos and hotels, including Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa.
Operation suspensions are effective at 11:59 p.m. March 16 through March 31, at which time the tribe will re-evaluate the feasibility of reopening, states a CN press release.
“Current there are no reports of positive COVID-19 cases on any CNB or Cherokee Nation properties. These measures have been deemed in the best interest of the public’s health and ongoing efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” the release states.
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said it is a priority to ensure the safety of citizens, employees and patrons during this pandemic.
“We continue our commitment to being proactive. Whether we can prevent the spread of a few cases or many cases within our tribe and within our community, we are being vigilant in protecting our people,” Hoskin said.
In the past month, CNB has dedicated additional resources to clean and disinfect its properties along with closing certain venues that “cater to large gatherings,” according to the release.
“It is now apparent that this is a public health crisis that requires advanced measures to slow the transmission of this highly contagious virus,” CNB CEO Chuck Garrett said. “Our responsibility to our patrons and employees, in addition to the latest CDC guidelines, has triggered a cautionary but temporary suspension of our casino operations to the public. The safety and health of our communities, patrons and employees are paramount. It is our hope that taking these preventive measures will minimize everyone’s risk of exposure.”
During the suspended operations, no employee will go without a paycheck, states the release. The CN will continue to provide updates at www.anadisgoi.com
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, North Carolina, is also taking similar precautions with the temporary closing of its two casino properties, EBCI Principal Chief Richard Sneed announced on his Facebook page on March 16.
He said due to previous closings of area schools, daycares and events, it immediately heightened the concern for casino employees and their families “who might be exposed to COVID-19 by one of our guests.”
He said he met with the Tribal Casino Gaming Enterprise to deliberate on what action to take. “After much deliberation and careful planning, we’ve ultimately decided to close Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Valley River Casino and Hotel operations for a period of two weeks. A plan has been developed and will be communicated to employees at both properties,” he said.
According to a Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort Facebook post, the casino will be temporarily closed at 6 a.m. on March 18.
He said the tribe and fellow tribal leaders are concerned for the “health and welfare” of the tribal community, elders in particular.
“They are the most likely to develop severe complications to any new virus. Health officials are recommending that social distancing is the most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
Sneed said the EBCI has previously taken steps to reduce the workforce of tribal employees. “The announcement for employees to receive up to 24 hours of emergency sick leave was our first step towards meeting the needs of parents who are impacted by childcare closures.”
He said another announcement will be made on March 18 on further details and encourages individuals to practice good hygiene as well as to self-monitor for symptoms.
“These preventative measures are the best way to flatten the curve, slowing the spread of the disease so our health systems are not inundated with patients at one time,” Sneed said. “Thank you for your patience and your understanding as we continue to work through the EBCI’s response to COVID-19.”