The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians temporarily closed the Chumash Casino Resort on Sunday because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have been following the COVID-19 pandemic as it progresses and have taken necessary precautions based on governmental guidance to protect our team members and guests,” Tribal Chairman Kenneth Kahn said in a statement.
“As uncertainty surrounding this threat escalates on an hourly basis, our tribe has decided to proceed with extreme caution and temporarily close the Chumash Casino Resort.”
More than 6,000 people visit the casino every day according to tribe statistics.
In June 2004, the casino opened its 106-room hotel. It earned an AAA Four-Diamond Award that same year.
The Willows steak and seafood restaurant has also earned a Four-Diamond rating. It is the only restaurant at a tribal casino in California to earn the award.
Casino spokeswoman Veronica Sandoval said the casino will pay employees during the closure.
Ms. Sandoval said the closure is scheduled to run through the end of March, but casino management will continue to monitor the pandemic over the next few weeks.
“The health and welfare of the community is our immediate concern. We will remain in close communication with local, state and federal agencies to discuss the latest developments,” Mr. Kahn said.
“We will continue to monitor the progress of COVID-19 and adjust the closure of the resort as necessary. We will keep you updated if it is determined we are able to open sooner or need to extend the closure,” Ms. Sandoval added.
The tribe also owns Hotel Corque, restaurants Root 246 and Hadsten House in Solvang, two gas stations in Santa Ynez and the Kitá Wines label.
It is the largest employer in the Santa Ynez Valley and employs more than 2,000 Santa Barbara County residents.
The federal government officially recognized the tribe’s reservation in 1901. There are 249 residents on the Santa Ynez Reservation and 97 homes.