MONTVILLE, Conn. — On day one of Connecticut's phase one reopening, the state's federally recognized tribes announced they will begin reopening portions of their reservations sooner than expected.
In a joint statement from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Mohegan Tribes, it was announced Wednesday that on June 1, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun will welcome guests back with safety guidelines in place.
The tribes drafted a plan to reopen that was recently discussed with Governor Ned Lamont.
However, Lamont announced that he agreed with fellow governors in the region who believe it was not the right way to go right now, given the nature of casinos — indoors, older population, food, and alcohol.
"We've got to talk again. I think that's incredible risk. It's risky for the people that work at casinos," said Lamont. "It's risky for people that go to the casinos. It's risky for the region because you have a lot of employees that go back out into the region…It' an enclosed area. A lot of older people are in there - some of them with pre-existing conditions. Alcohol and food is involved. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure we put public health first."
James Gessner, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe responded to the Governor's response today with his own statement:
“This afternoon, Governor Lamont and his reopen team expressed two general concerns about Connecticut casinos opening on June 1. First, they worry about the regional impact, specifically referencing buses coming from New York or other states. We completely agree that’s why the plan we put forward today made clear that both casinos will not accept any buses and clearly not from New York or Massachusetts, nor will we do any marketing to those states at this time. Second, they are concerned about older customers who may have increased health risks. Again we agree, that’s why the plan we put forward today made clear that we will advise older customers to take specific precautions and to stay home if they are part of an at-risk group. We appreciate the Governor’s concerns, and we appreciate that he also made clear the tribal nations are being 'thoughtful' about reopening. We look forward to working with him further as the state continues to reopen."
Despite executive orders being issued in Connecticut, the tribes don’t have to abide as their destinations are operated on sovereign land.
Although the resort casinos chose not to reopen before out of goodwill, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun officials say they will now be included in Phase One.
RELATED: Mashantucket Pequot, Mohegan Tribal Nations, and Lamont administration agree to close due to COVID-19 prevention efforts
According to the release, the new protocols and operating procedures for each property were established in a collaboration between the tribes.
“We’re proud to partner with the Mohegan Tribe to ensure we develop the most responsible plan for helping the state of Connecticut recover swiftly and safely from the crippling economic impact of this pandemic,” Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Rodney A. Butler said.
Here are some of the new guidelines:
- Neither property will open its concert venues, buffets or poker rooms
- Tenant restaurants will be open for take-out only
- Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun will also only cater to Connecticut and Rhode Island residents at this time
- No out-of-state marketing to New York or Massachusetts will take place at either property
- No out-of-state buses will be accepted.
- Training on infectious disease safety and sanitation protocols for each property's team members.
That protocol is aimed at mitigating the risks for both guests and employees, officials said.
Gessner said the health and safety measures were put together in the past 10 weeks.
"The Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegan Tribe have called Connecticut home for hundreds of years. We have deep roots within our communities and are fortunate to call many of our neighbors team members and friends," Gessner said. "As we developed our new guidelines for reopening which expanded on the rigorous safety policies already in place at Mohegan Sun, the safety of these team members, neighbors, partners and friends were at the forefront of each decision we made."
According to Gessner, the new guidelines are based off recommendations from experts both nationally and around the globe.
The have been implemented at several of our other resort destinations across the country and are the plans the tribes shared with Gov. Lamont weeks ago.
More comprehensive training will be provided for team members with frequent guest contact including Housekeeping, Food & Beverage, Environmental Services, Hotel Operations, Gaming, Retail, Entertainment and Security.
For information directly from each casino, click below.