In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Muckleshoot Tribal Council on Monday declared a state of emergency within its nation and will close the tribe’s casino and bingo operations for two weeks effective 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 17.
“The health and safety of our guests, employees, tribal members and greater community is our primary concern,” said Jaison Elkins, Muckleshoot Tribal Council chair, in a statement released Monday. “Muckleshoot is a strong community, and we will meet this challenge with the strength, commitment and resiliency that our people have shown over the years.”
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday an emergency proclamation that mandates the immediate two-week closure of all restaurants, bars and entertainment and recreational facilities, as well as additional limits on large gatherings. The new orders go into effect at midnight Tuesday and will be in place through March 31.
The announcement comes after the recent spike in numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state and throughout the country.
“If we are living a normal life, we are not doing our jobs as Washingtonians,” Inslee said. “We cannot do that anymore. We need to make changes, regardless of size. All of us need to do more. We must limit the number of people we come in contact with. This is the new normal.”
The Muckleshoots join the Suquamish, Puyallup, Tulalip and Lummi tribes who announced Monday they are shutting down their casino operations for two weeks.
“Tribes continue to take major safety measures to further protect public health, including partially shutting down non-essential government operations and temporarily shuttering tribal enterprises. Many tribes have announced temporary casino closures,” said W. Ron Allen, Chairman/CEO at Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, based in Blyn. “These are difficult decisions for our sovereign nations, as our ability to provide essential government services including health care, elder services and so much more depends primarily on tribal gaming revenue. But protecting public health is the top priority and we are determined to serve community needs with the compassion and strength instilled in us by our ancestors.”
Tribal casinos and other tribal enterprises in Washington are owned and managed by sovereign nations. Like other jurisdictions around the state, each have devoted significant resources to monitor and respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Tribes will continue working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and make decisions that carefully consider and protect the well being of tribal and non-tribal communities and employees.