Navajo Nation casinos to reopen in July after being closed due to coronavirus

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Northern Edge Casino in Upper Fruitland is pictured on May 18. The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise will keep its casinos in New Mexico and Arizona closed until July 5.

FARMINGTON — Those looking forward to the reopening of casinos on the Navajo Nation will have to wait until July.

The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise Board of Directors approved continuing the closure of the Northern Edge Casino in Upper Fruitland, Flowing Water Casino in Hogback, Fire Rock Casino near Gallup and Twin Arrow Casino Resort near Flagstaff, Arizona due to the novel coronavirus.

The four casinos will operate at 50% capacity when they reopen on July 5, according to a press release from the gaming enterprise.

The board's decision adheres to a June 3 executive order by Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer. The order — the fifth since the first COVID-19 case on the reservation was reported in March — keeps the divisions and departments under the executive branch closed to the public.

Personnel complete deep clean the front entrance inside the Northern Edge Casino in Upper Fruitland.

"We continue to work with the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President and our commitment to protect team members and patrons during these unprecedented times," Board Chairman Quincy Natay said in the release.

Natay added that employees will remain on paid administrative leave.

The release states the casinos, which have been closed since March 17, have undergone bio-hazard deep cleaning and sanitizing processes.

Each casino will have social distancing requirements and there will be enforcement of physical distancing in gaming areas, food and beverage locations, and other high-traffic areas.

Patrons will have their temperature checked with an infrared device before entering the casino.

Personnel clean the interior of the Northern Edge Casino in Upper Fruitland.

"Patrons and team members with temperatures of 100.4 or higher will not be allowed to enter," the release states.

Additionally, they will be asked to use hand sanitizer before entering the building and they will be encouraged to wear face masks, but it is not required.

The Navajo Nation still has a public health emergency order by the Navajo Department of Health in effect that mandates anyone older than 2 years old wear face masks or cloth face coverings while in public.

"We are committed to protecting our guests, team members and surrounding communities, and look forward to the time when we can safely reopen," Brian Parrish, interim CEO for the enterprise, said in the release.

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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