Viejas Casino & Resort in Alpine reopens to the public

Posted at 7:22 AM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 19:22:35-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The Viejas Casino & Resort reopened its doors Monday morning to the public despite concerns from San Diego County and state health officials.

The casino in Alpine, as well as others in the region, has been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Viejas, Sycuan, Jamul, and Valley View all announced last week they would reopen starting the week of May 18 in light of California’s easing of some restrictions.

Viejas opened at 8 a.m. Monday, with Sycuan Casino Resort and Jamul Casino reopening on Thursday, and Valley View Casino & Hotel reopening on Friday.

Officials with Viejas said there will be enhanced public health and safety measures in place for their visitors.

Throughout the property, signs reminding guests of safety protocols, social distancing guidelines and safety practices will be posted. All guests and employees will be subject to a non-contact temperature scan before entering casino.

Every other machine on the casino floor will be disabled to help maintain social distancing, and those under the age of 21 will not be allowed to enter, officials said.

Everyone in the casino, employees and guests, will be required to wear masks, officials said. Additional hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed throughout the resort, they said.

Between 3 a.m.-7 a.m. every day, the casino will shut down for a deep cleaning of the property – a procedure that will include the use of an ultraviolet light.

After last week’s reopening announcement, county health officials urged casino officials to reconsider and vowed to work with the CDC to prevent them from opening. However, the county later walked back those comments.

Last Friday, Gov. Newsom sent a letter to county tribal leaders and asked them to wait to reopen. In his letter, Newsome said he would not ask the tribes to get permission from the state before reopening, but he hoped they would, in the spirit of sovereign-to-sovereign engagement, hold off on reopening until Phase 3 of the California’s plan.

Legal experts told 10News state and local governments do not have jurisdiction over tribal lands.