Los Angeles: Several major Las Vegas casinos say they will reopen next week after being closed for more than two months because of the coronavirus pandemic -- welcome news for Nevada, which heavily relies on the massive gaming industry for its economic wellbeing.
The Bellagio, New York-New York, Caesars Palace and the Flamingo are some of the resorts that will open their doors on June 4, with strict social distancing practices in effect.
“We welcome the visitors from across the country to come here, to have a good time, no different than they did previously, but we’re going to be cautious, ” governor Steve Sisolak told reporters during a late night press call on Tuesday.
Sisolak said he made the decision to reopen the multi-billion-dollar gaming industry -- the bedrock of Nevada’s economy -- following consultations with health experts.
“We’ve taken every precaution possible, ” said Sisolak, who had been due to make the announcement during a press conference that was cancelled over fears he may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus last week.
“I don’t think you’re going to find a safer place to come than Las Vegas by June 4, with the protocols that we’ve put in place, with the testing that we’ve put in place, with the contact tracing that will be in place by that time, ” the Democratic governor added.
“We’re encouraging visitors to come and enjoy themselves and have a good time.”
The Gaming Control Board issued guidelines this month on the reopening of casinos, including limiting them to half-capacity and restricting to three the number of people at gaming tables.
It also recommended the removal of every other chair at slot machines to maintain safe social distancing margins.
Casino workers, however, have balked at returning to work without enhanced measures to protect them.
“This is a matter of life-or-death for workers, and I urge everyone to proceed very deliberately and very carefully, ” the Culinary Union, which represents some 60,000 Las Vegas workers, said in a statement.
“Culinary Union members and other casino workers will become frontline workers because we are the ones who will interact with guests daily and frequently.”
The union is demanding that workers who will be most exposed be tested regularly for coronavirus and given protective equipment if needed.
“What happens if someone who arrives in Vegas asymptomatic develops symptoms here and decides to hole up in their room for a couple of days instead of asking for medical attention?” the union said.
Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts’ acting CEO and president, said the company would be following a set of protocols to mitigate the spread of the virus, including increased testing of employees. — AFP
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