After being shuttered for two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barona Resort & Casino began to re-open to the public in phases on Wednesday, May 27.

In response to the pandemic, Barona Resort & Casino closed in mid-March to protect the health and safety of its players, staff, Tribal members, and surrounding community.

Barona Resort & Casino’s phased re-opening is centered on a robust Barona Cares Health and Safety Plan which includes increased and continuous disinfecting and cleaning protocols, limiting capacity, social distancing policies, required facial coverings for all staff and players, infrared temperature checks, health, and hygiene reminders property-wide, and the entire casino is non-smoking.

“Our first concern is always the health and wellness of Barona’s Tribal elders and Tribal community along with all of our staff, our players, and surrounding community,” said Chairman Edwin “Thorpe” Romero, Barona Band of Mission Indians in a news release. “We consider ourselves one big family and our goal are to ensure the wellbeing of our friends and family as we slowly begin to welcome players back to Barona. We want them to have fun but most importantly we want them to feel safe and protected.”

At the onset of the pandemic, Barona established a Barona Cares Task Force to coordinate the casino’s closure, as well as to develop a phased plan for the re-opening that focuses on significant public health measures to ensure the safety and cleanliness of Barona Resort & Casino.

“Over the years, Barona has received many accolades throughout the gaming industry and most importantly from our players as being the cleanest and safest casino,” said Rick Salinas, general manager, Barona Resort & Casino in the news release. “We have spent the past two months developing a thoughtful plan which enhances our already robust standards and addresses the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with all of the applicable guidelines.”

With the well-being of the casino’s players, staff, and Tribal community as the top priority, the first phase of the plan includes the following guidelines:

  • Temperature screenings using infrared thermometers and wellness checks will be required for all players and staff inside their vehicle as they arrive on property. Anyone with a temperature above 100 or other symptoms will be politely asked to leave the property and seek medical advice;
  • Players and staff will be required to sanitize their hands before entering the casino or hotel;
  • Face coverings will be required for all players and staff;
  • The entire casino will be non-smoking, and Barona’s triple-stage air filtration system will continuously disinfect the air and kill 99% of germs and viruses using germicidal UVC light technology;
  • No one under 18 will be allowed on property;
  • Every other slot machine will be turned off and chairs will be removed. Slot machines and chairs will be disinfected after each player;
  • Table games have been reduced and will be limited to three players per table to ensure social distancing. Disinfecting dice, table game rails, and chairs after every player; and touchless wagering at table games which means players never touch the chips;
  • Enhanced disinfecting protocols and increased sanitizing throughout the casino around the clock, especially at high touch point areas. Barona will only use disinfectants that are effective against viruses and meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidelines;
  • All staff members will be required to attend PPE/COVID-19 training;
  • Social distancing policies, signage, and floor markers throughout the casino and entire property;
  • Plexiglass dividers have been installed property-wide in areas where appropriate between players and staff including Club Barona booths, cashier cage, all point-of-service stations in the food court, Sage Café, hotel check-in, various back of the house areas, among others;
  • Health and hygiene reminders placed throughout the property and back of the house reminding staff and players to social distance, wear their face coverings properly, wash hands frequently, and remember not to touch their faces. All staff will be required to wash their hands before and after breaks and continuously wash or sanitize their hands during their shift;
  • Increased availability of disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer stations throughout the entire property; and
  • A phased re-opening of restaurants will begin in the first phase. The buffet will remain closed.

Responsibility for All  

Every Barona staff member has been trained with the new added responsibility of helping to make sure everyone is following the health and safety measures. Even the beloved Barona Party People will be responsible for reminding players to wear their face coverings, follow social distancing policies, and to remember to wash or sanitize their hands frequently and not touch their face.

During the first phase, Barona will begin opening restaurants in a phased approach starting with Sage Café and the food court. Sage Café will open with reduced capacity, disposable placemat menus, and continual disinfecting measures. With plexiglass dividers at the counters, the food court will package all food in to-go containers, there will be no self-service beverage stations and tables will be reduced by 50 percent for socially distanced seating. Gameside dining will be available at slot machines but not table games.

The hotel will re-open in phases starting at approximately 35 percent capacity, but the pool, spa, and fitness center will remain closed.

The Barona Creek Golf Club, Pro Shop and snack bar will remain closed with a planned reopening in mid-June.

Additional features that will remain closed for the safety of staff and players include the poker room, buffet, valet services, gift shop, car wash, Barona Oaks Steakhouse, Italian Cucina, and Plaza Grill as well as the wedding chapel and events center. Barona’s bussing program has also been discontinued until further notice.

Source: Barona Resort & Casino