By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Creative Commons via Bing
December 31, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – On most New Year’s eves, local casinos host lavish parties with amenities such as fireworks, dinner and dancing, and even a glittering ball drop reminiscent of Times Square in New York. But not this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed over 343,000 Americans and 1.8 million people worldwide.
Local casinos are on tribal land, and as sovereign nations, tribes are exempt from state shutdown orders and gathering bans. But a check of websites for East County casinos including Barona, Golden Acorn, Jamul, Sycuan and Viejas found none promoting any New Year’s eve parties, though some are offering gambling promotions and Sycuan has live music in its bars.
Jamul Casino announced cancellation of all live music over New Year's. Barona posted, “For your safety, there will be no New Year’s Eve events.”
In Northeast County, Harrah’s Rincon does have New Year’s eve restaurant specials despite a state ban of on-site dining for non-tribal restaurant venues. Valley View Casino in Valley Center is touting live entertainment at its Main Stage bar.
Pala Casino, however, is promoting a live tribute concert to Journeymen on New Year’s Day, with no mention of whether masking or social distancing will be required.
At Pechanga Resort Casino in neighboring Temecula, just over the county line, the casino has announced a more responsible action – closing to the public on New Year’s Eve as well as cancelling or postponing all concerts scheduled for the first three months of 2021.
Pauma Casino has no events or promotions listed for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.
Some casinos in Northern California did hold parties, but those in San Diego County were more responsible.
County and state public health officials,along with hospital representatives locally have urged everyone to stay home this New Year's Eve, since Southern California's hospital intensive care units are full with zero percent capacity. A rapid-spreading variant of COVID-19 out of Britain was identified yesterday in San Diego.
How can you celebrate? Bring in dinner or cocktails from a local restaurant. In New York City, there will be a ball drop in Times Square, though without a live audience. You can watch the virtual celebration at https://nye2021.com/authenticate.