Nevada Governor to Ease Some Casino COVID-19 Restrictions
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has decided to ease some COVID-19 restrictions regarding casino properties.
Gaming venues in Nevada have been struggling for almost a year now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With closures, then operating at a lower capacity, the casinos have been unable to see a major recovery point. This week, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced that he is planning to gradually return the capacity of gaming floors to 50%. This is due to an improvement of positive cases of the coronavirus.
There is now a new tentative schedule in place. On February 15, casinos can return to 35% capacity. By March 15, the percentage moves up to 50. This was the limit late last year until the governor decided to launch a ‘pause’ where the casinos went back to the 25% rate.
Right now, the casino floors have been limited to 25% and showrooms at 50% in the audience or 25%, with the lower number prevailing. It is unclear if the showroom percentage will change or stay the same, as the governor did not specifically mention this limit.
For public gatherings, they can increase to 100 people by Monday, or 35% cap. By March 15, this number will grow to 250 or 50% capacity. This increase by March should help casinos to begin offering smaller conferences and events, picking up traffic that has been lacking due to the lower capacity levels.
This schedule is tentative, meaning the governor is not above slowing things down again. Every move is made based on the number of positive cases of the virus and hospitalizations. If these numbers stay low, then restrictions will continue to be lowered. If the numbers rise again, the governor is likely to slow things down again, which will only hurt gaming business in the state, especially in Las Vegas.
Operators are Ready to Expand Services
Nevada gaming operators are ready to expand their services and are happy with the announcement by the governor this week. In speaking with Casino.org, Brian Ahern, a spokesman for MGM Resorts International said that the company welcome’s the announcement and could not be more excited about resuming its entertainment services as well as adding more to occupancy levels.
The company plans to work with local and state officials to bring large-scale conventions back to life in the state. Conventions and entertainment are key to recovery according to the operator. At the same time, casino operators will keep the health and safety of guests and employees as its number one priority.
Mask wearing will continue along with social distancing measures, cleaning protocols, etc. Each facility will continue to promote these factors in order to ensure that the positive case count numbers do not increase again. Any slip up and the governor is more than likely to change the regulations again.
The new plan of Sisolak also includes indoor dining. The levels for indoor dining will be at 35% as of this Monday. Guests do not have to make reservations starting next week. Right now, the number of people per table at a restaurant is four. That number can increase to six with the latest regulation changes.
By May, the COVID-19 restriction decisions should be left up to the local communities, if nothing changes as far as infection rate or hospitality. For gaming properties, local officials will work with the state Gaming Commission and Gaming Control Board to create guidelines that must be followed.
What those guidelines will look like remain a mystery at the moment. We should see more changes over the coming months as we get closer to May. Overall, we can expect similar protocols to now, but the capacity should increase along with what services are offered at casino sites.