The Las Vegas Strip is slowly awakening after a nearly 80-day slumber due to the coronavirus crisis. USA TODAY
LAS VEGAS – All guests inside Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts properties must now wear face coverings at all times unless they’re eating or drinking.
The mask policies applies to all Caesars and MGM Resorts properties open in Indiana, Iowas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Ohio, as well as tribal properties in Arizona, California and North Carolina.
Anyone who refuses to wear a mask will be directed to leave the property.
Caesars’ announcement came hours before Gov. Steve Sisolak was set an update the public on the state’s coronavirus response during a Wednesday night press conference.
“We are immediately requiring everyone in our properties to wear masks, because the scientific evidence strongly suggests that wearing masks and practicing social distancing may be the most important deterrents to spreading COVID-19 from person to person,” said Caesars CEO Tony Rodio in a statement.
Caesars’ mandate comes the same week the operator of five reopened hotel-casinos on The Strip launched a promotion giving mask-wearing guests $20 in free play.
“It’s good policy,” MGM Resorts Acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle told the USA TODAY Network. “Caution is critically important, and we have seen that those areas, those states, those businesses that required masks in the collective have fared better than those that have not.”
Dealers and other employees are required to wear masks or face shields, per gaming authority reopening regulations.
For visitors, masks are only encouraged, not mandatory, in Las Vegas casinos, and many went without during reopening week.
When Caesars Palace reopened on June 4, an employee handing out masks with a tong at one entrance estimated 80% of visitors weren’t wearing masks.
But COVID-19 cases are gaining steam in Nevada and across the U.S., and state officials are getting pressured to require masks for all casino visitors.
The coronavirus casino closure is ending, with cards to be dealt, dice to roll and slot jackpots to win starting Thursday in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada. (June 4) AP Domestic
Nevada cases surge
Nevada has crested 14,000 cases of COVID-19, adding an additional 365 new cases on Wednesday.
In total, 14,362 Nevadans have tested positive for coronavirus, according to new numbers posted to the Nevada Health Alliance dashboard Wednesday morning.
The number of people who’ve died from the disease increased to 494.
The state’s four highest single-day increases have all been recorded within the past week, according to state data.
Las Vegas restaurants close due to COVID-19
As COVID-19 cases surge in Nevada, several restaurants have closed after employees there tested positive for the contagious respiratory illness.
Three employees at the Sahara’s Northside Café tested positive, the hotel said in a Monday statement about shutting it down.
Last week, two Flamingo employees tested positive for the coronavirus, and restaurants inside the Bellagio and Linq Hotel – including Guy Fieri’s Las Vegas Kitchen Bar – closed after workers there got COVID-19.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said he would also support local leaders who set stricter restrictions and encouraged business owners to mandate employees and customers to wear face masks.
“We’re not in a post-COVID time,” said Sisolak, who is expected to give an update on the state’s COVID-19 response plans Wednesday. “We’re right dead-smack in the middle of it.”
Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here.
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