Doors remain closed for Navajo Nation casinos over coronavirus concerns

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise is keeping its four casinos closed until April 30 over ongoing COVID-19 concerns and efforts to keep the public safe.

Brian Parrish, interim CEO for the enterprise, announced in a video posted on the enterprise's Facebook page that the establishments will remain closed beyond the initial closure date of April 6.

"We decided to do this because we want to make sure that we're making every effort to support our nation, and the states and the communities, in their efforts to preserve and protect the safety, health and general welfare of all the population and for us, especially with our team members, the Navajo people and all of our guests," Parrish said.

The enterprise stopped gaming operations on March 17 at the Northern Edge Casino in Upper Fruitland, Flowing Water Casino in Hogback, Fire Rock Casino near Gallup and Twin Arrows Casino Resort near Flagstaff, Arizona.

Coronavirus impact:Navajo Nation extends closure order through April

Parrish made the announcement a day after an executive order to keep tribal government offices closed to April 26 over public health concerns for COVID-19.

The order does allow essential personnel to report to work sites but orders entities such as casinos to follow the requirement that tribal members stay at home to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Barriers block vehicle access to Fire Rock Casino near Gallup. The casino has been closed since March 17 due to public health emergency orders over COVID-19.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 214 on April 1, and the total number of deaths remain at seven, the Navajo Department of Health and Navajo Area Indian Health Service reported.

The increase in cases were reported in Navajo and Coconino counties, both in Arizona, according to information released by the Navajo Health Command Operations Center.

The operations center reported that Kayenta in Navajo County and Tuba City in Coconino County "are being heavily impacted" by COVID-19.

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Another gaming facility, SunRay Park and Casino, has been closed since March 16 in accordance with the state public health emergency order to limit mass gatherings due to COVID-19.

The establishment, located between Farmington and Bloomfield, announced on April 1 that there will be no live horse racing this month.

"We are not able to speculate anything further until the order is lifted," a post on its Facebook page states about operations.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

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