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Navajo casino doors remain shut, NAPI continues partial closure due to coronavirus


Noel Lyn Smith   | Farmington Daily Times
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FARMINGTON — The ongoing need to protect public health has caused the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise to keep its casinos closed and the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry to remain operating at reduced services until next month.

A press release from the gaming enterprise states its board of directors approved extending the closure of its four casinos to June 7.

The board's decision adheres with the executive order signed on May 12 by the Navajo Nation president, vice president and attorney general that extends the tribe's state of emergency and the partial shutdown of the government due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Northern Edge Casino in Upper Fruitland, Flowing Water Casino in Hogback, Fire Rock Casino near Gallup and Twin Arrows Casino Resort near Flagstaff, Arizona have been closed since March 17.

Board chairman Quincy Natay said the enterprise will continue to pay employees for the duration of the closure.

"With 82% of our staff enrolled members of the Navajo Nation and residing on the nation, we want to make sure our team did not have to face additional hardships as they continue to do their part by staying home and helping flatten the curve," Natay said.

The enterprise will continue to monitor the situation, the release states.

Brian Parrish, interim CEO for the enterprise, said a reopening plan has been prepared and includes "extensive countermeasures so patrons and team members are assured they'll have a safe and sanitary casino, resort experience."

Information about new protocols for the four casinos and the hotel at Twin Arrows will be released within the next two weeks, Parrish said.

NAPI extends partial shutdown

NAPI is complying with the executive order by extending the partial shutdown.

The company has been operating at a reduced capacity since March 16 and will remain in that function through June 7, according to a press release.

The release states that non-essential employees are on paid administrative leave for the extent of the shutdown and the main office and other locations remain closed to the public.

However, the store at the Region 2 Scales is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Thursday and closed from Friday to Sunday.

"NAPI will continue to closely monitor and follow recommendations provided by health and government officials," the release states.

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

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