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Coronavirus in Florida

Seminole Casinos close all Florida locations after pressure from Jackie Toledo.

All of the casinos will close at 6 p.m. Friday.

Seminole casinos are closing all of their properties due to social distancing recommendations regarding the novel coronavirus. That includes the company’s Florida casinos in Tampa, Immokalee, Okeechobee, Brighton, Hollywood and Coconut Creek.

All of the casinos close at 6 p.m.

“This decision was not taken lightly as Seminole Gaming employs nearly 14,000 Seminole Gaming team members in the state,” the Casino group wrote in a news release. “The goal has been to protect their livelihood without jeopardizing public safety. We have now reached a point where we do not feel comfortable taking that risk.”

Seminole Casinos did not announce how long the closures were planned.

The move comes after Rep. Jackie Toledo, whose district includes parts of Tampa, put pressure on the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa to reduce hours or close.

“I’m extremely pleased that the Seminole Tribe, and the leadership of the Seminole Hard Rock, decided to temporarily close its doors. The health and well-being of our community is of the utmost importance as we battle this pandemic and operating the casino presents a health risk to workers, patrons, and our community at-large,” Toledo said of the casino’s closure.

“I want to thank everyone who reached out to our office to support this cloture and to those who offered insight into the potential dangers of continuing to operate the casino at this time. I am hopeful the Seminole Hard Rock will continue to prioritize their employees and provide financial assistance while the doors are closed.”

Earlier in the week, Toledo wrote a letter to the casino.

“Please follow suit of your industry across the country, and close your doors to prevent exposure to some of our most vulnerable populations,” Toledo wrote.

Toledo also hosted a press conference in front of the casino Wednesday to up the pressure.

Other casinos across the country have also closed entirely, including the MGM and Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas. In South Florida, the Calder and Gulfstream casinos are closing.

“The Centers for Disease Control has recommended that social gatherings of more than 50 people should not take place. While I applaud the cancellation of upcoming shows as a means of precaution, notable casinos across our nation have taken full measures in order to prevent exposure to the COVID-19 virus,” Toledo wrote.

The decision also came after Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all bars and nightclubs closed for 30-days and restaurants to operate at half capacity.

As of Friday afternoon, 520 cases of coronavirus had been reported throughout Florida, with the highest concentrations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Hillsborough County, where the Tampa casino is located, ranks fourth in the state with 30 cases.

Ten people in Florida have died of the disease.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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