SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — Northern Quest Casino and Resort reopened on Tuesday and announced on Friday that it will change one of its social distancing protocols implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Northern Quest had previously announced a number of changes to increase social distancing and sanitation efforts ion their facilities.
One of the original changes included only turning on every other machine on the casino floor. But the casino said guests were waiting for their favorite machines, and it was hard to keep them cleaned between guests.
"What we’ve quickly learned is that once the machines are largely occupied (but we have yet to reach 50 percent occupancy), guests are waiting anxiously for their favorite machine to open up," the casino said. "The quick turnover makes it difficult for our staff to halt play enough to thoroughly clean machines between players."
Northern Quest will now keep all machines turned on but allow only 50 percent of the normal floor capacity at any given time.
Northern Quest allowed to reopen, announces new protocols
Northern Quest is allowed to reopen because it's on sovereign land run by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians and not subject to state law.
"We've looked at the numbers. We've decided to exercise our sovereign right," general manager Nick Pierre said.
Pierre said the decision was made in order to help keep the tribe afloat, and Kalipsel Tribe council members have said they consider entertainment and hospitality services to be essential. The income generated by the resort and casino largely funds the tribe's government.
"This is essential to our tribe. Without it, we can't fund our government," Pierre said.
More 1,800 tribal employees were furloughed after many businesses had to close but reopening the casino will bring some of these workers back.
There are some changes to casino operations, though.
Originally, only 50 percent of the casino's slot machines were turned on and every other table game is closed to promote social distancing. Tables are limited to two guests, unless they live in the same household.
The rules regarding slot machines were changed on May 8, with all machines being turned on but only 50 percent capacity allowed to play at any given time.
Employees will wear masks and clean off the slot machines after each use.
The Center Bar and Liquid is open for walk-up orders. Servers will continue beverage service on the casino floor while wearing masks.
Northern Quest is opening these food and beverage venues with limited hours:
- Fai’s Noodle House
- Ben & Jerry’s
- Thomas Hammer
These venues will remain temporarily closed:
- The Deli
- Legends of Fire
- Masselow’s Lounge
- Masselow’s Steakhouse
- Riverbank Taphouse
- River’s Edge Buffet
- Turf Club
Kalispel Golf and Country Club will be open to members and guests beginning on Tuesday.
All concerts have been postponed through June 20, 2020. Tickets for shows from March through June will be valid for the rescheduled show.
The casino will also be operating limited hours - 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. - to allow more time for cleaning. Guests are also encouraged to wear masks and asked not to visit if they feel sick.
A full list of changes is available on Northern Quest's website.
Pierre said these changes won't be permanent and the casino will slowly return to normal as time goes on.
"As time progresses and we get more information on everything, we'll decide to go onto different phases," Pierre said.