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Casino employee fears reopening amid coronavirus pandemic

Several of the valley's casinos are opening their doors to the public once again.

The casinos reopening have implemented many safety precautions, the levels of which impressed some members of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. However, one worker voiced his concerns about opening back up.

"It brings on a lot of anxiety and a lot of questions that have no answers at the moment," the worker tells News Channel 3's Shelby Nelson.

Many have come out with mixed reactions after learning several valley casinos were reopening. The worker who spoke with News Channel 3 did not want to go on camera, or reveal which casino he works for. He said he understands the situation, but is concerned.

"It brings on a lot of anxiety and a lot of questions that have no answers at the moment."

One of his questions: what will he do with his kids? The employee said he was recently notified to report back to work because the casino he works for is reopening.

"Child care is not open. That would mean I would have to basically throw all the quarantine time staying away from our grandparents away-- just to make sure that they’re babysat by them to just go to work."

The financial burden has also played a part in this. The worker said he just started receiving unemployment 2 weeks ago.

"I am officially in debt. Sending me back to work now would send me into work with debt, making less money."

Employers have now had to compete with the extra $600 some people are receiving from unemployment on top of the wages they are being compensated for. The employee described it as a catch 22 situation.

Workers have faced a number of challenges. Some said they are ready to go back to work and receive a paycheck once again. One casino worker spoke with News Channel 3's Jake Ingrassia.

"I’m ready to go back to work and to take all the precautionary measures that they ask me to take."

Those who are concerned have voiced questions on whether they'll be able to hold off on going back to work without losing their jobs.

News Channel 3 reached out to several valley casinos that have announced plans to reopen. We were curious to see what the process has been for reincorporating employees back in. Many were too busy to talk, as they got set to reopen their doors.

"Before we announced to the public we let our employees know and the overwhelming majority of them were excited and ready to come back to work," Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Tribal Chairman, Jeff Grubbe said.

The casino joined several with plans to reopen Friday. Grubbe said workers who weren't quite ready to returned had a choice.

"We gave those employees an opportunity to wait and let us open without them. They’re still considered employees that still receive benefits and then as things progress we’re going to give them an opportunity to come back or not at that time," Grubbe said.

He also said employees will have roughly between 2 weeks and 30 days to decide. In the meantime, the casino is implementing safety precautions by prohibiting smoking for the time being, requiring face masks, amping up cleaning procedures, capping casino capacity at 50 percent, and more.

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Jesus Reyes

Shelby Nelson

Shelby Nelson is a News Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. She joined our team in September 2019 after living in San Francisco for 6 years. Learn more about Shelby here.

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