VERONA, N.Y. -- Closing down Turning Stone Resort Casino, Point Place and Yellow Brick Road Casinos wasn't as easy as flipping a switch. The reopening, slated for June 10, won't be, either. It will be staggered and fragmented. Everything isn't opening June 10; Turning Stone's Exit 33 entertainment complex won't open to start, nor will Season's Harvest Buffet, the Showroom and Event Center. And after the gaming facilities reopen, entry will be restricted to patrons living within 120 miles, so as to help prevent the spread, between regions, of the coronavirus.
"We will be checking IDs and zip codes, really, and making sure they're within both to enforce the 120 mile radius but also as a part of our contract tracing coordination with the local counties," says Joel Barkin, Nation VP of Communications.
In order to make such checks feasible, the Oneida Nation will restrict entry.
"Limiting the number of entrances the guests will be able to come into. And when guests come in, we will make sure that they have a face covering, show that they have a face covering and if they do not have a face covering, they will be required to purchase one there," says Barkin.
The Nation won't be covering gaming machines or tables in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. They say wearing face coverings will take care of that. They are, however, investing time and money in ensuring the health of their staff, and therefore, patients.
"We're setting up a tent in our employee parking lot. They'll be tested, temperature and health screening before they get on the bus. We've significantly increased the number of buses so there will be spaces between the employees on the bus," says Larkin.
The costly and complex steps aren't ideal, but necessary. Officials with the Oneida Indian Nation say they're glad to be bringing back thousands of employees, because sending them away was a dark day.
"We have employees, thousands and thousand of employees, some of which have been with us more than 25 years, who've never gone a week without being on property just because they don't take very long vacations if they don't want to. And I think that was a very difficult thing to see taken away from people's lives," says Barkin.
The Nation shut down gaming operations March 16; if they reopen as planned, June 10, they'll have been closed nearly three months.