By John McCallum
Managing Editor 

Kalispel Tribe to reopen all facilities

 

April 30, 2020



AIRWAY HEIGHTS -- Citing entertainment and hospitality as essential businesses needed to run their government, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians announced today (April 29) that they will be reopening all of their facilities on May 5 -- including Northern Quest Resort & Casino on the West Plains.

The announcement came just before Gov. Jay Inslee said in a press conference that similar restrictions that have closed Washington businesses such as restaurants, movie theatres and other entertainment facilities would likely be extended beyond the possible relaxation date of May 4.

Social distancing and other safety measures intended to guard against the spread of the coronavirus and the disease it carries, COVID-19, will be enacted, the Tribe said in a news release. Additionally, the casino will operate with reduced hours, 10 a.m. -- 2 p.m. daily, with a deep cleaning taking place in timeframe in between.

"Out of deep concern for the community, guests and team members, the Kalispel Tribe voluntarily closed the majority of its businesses on March 16, due to the rapidly increasing and devastating impacts of COVID-19," officials said in the release. "While the initial closure was slated for two weeks, Tribal Council extended the closure for more than seven weeks to support state, national and international public health efforts."


"These efforts have proven successful," officials added. "We are grateful that in Spokane and Pend Oreille Counties, confirmed cases are continuing to decrease and more importantly, the Intensive Care Units within our local healthcare system have not been overwhelmed."

Officials have said that revenue from Northern Quest and other entertainment and hospitality facilities is essential to running the tribes government operations, including public safety. During a virtual West Plains Chamber of Commerce stakeholders meeting last Thursday, Kalispel Chief Operating Officer Phil Haugen said it was a misnomer that tribes' revenue is not taxed.

"We’re actually taxed 100 percent because everything we make here at this casino or any other of our businesses goes to running our essential government offices, anything from public safety to social services to education to all our government services," Haugen said.

With no revenue coming in from mostly hospitality and entertainment-based businesses for more than a month, the Kalispel Tribe was forced to lay off and furlough more than 1,800 employees after paying its entire workforce for the first three weeks of the stay-at-home orders.

John McCallum can be reached at [email protected]

 

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