It was fun as long as it lasted, but the casinos in Nevada are about to take another hit. A new order passed by Governor Steve Sisolak just after midnight tonight would require all gaming facilities, bars and restaurants to take a ‘pause’ in their activities for three weeks, with capacity declining from their current level of 50 percent all the way down to 25 percent.
The modifications are attributable to a recent increase in COVID-19 cases and Sisolak is prepared to enforce even tougher measures if they don’t perform. The reduction is an effort to prevent a full shutdown like the one that was seen in the state earlier this year.
The governor has however, made it clear that the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) is prepared to implement the rules and says, “If [casino operators] don’t follow [the restrictions] they will suffer the consequences,” and warned that, “we are in constant contact with the Gaming Control Board. It’s time to act. I am not issuing a shutdown order.” For its part, in assigning penalties to violators, the NGCB will apparently be given great latitude.
The 25 percent capacity limit is at all times for all properties, including this Thursday, Thanksgiving. Furthermore no restaurant or any other food service establishment is able to receive walk-in customers, even those at casinos. By reservation only all tables will be seated, and no table will be permitted to seat more than four people.
Nevada has seen a total of 133,888 cases since the start of the COVID-19 debacle that resulted in 2,017 deaths. There were another 2,155 new cases and six more fatalities as of yesterday, and the governor is adamant that banning meetings of any sort would stop the virus from spreading further. COVID fills up our hospital beds, he says, and that scares all Nevadans. This is our greatest threat… it can’t become our reality.
The owners of the bar and restaurant are worried they will have to permanently close as revenue sources dry up. They do not see how at 25 percent they will thrive, but Sisolak disagrees. He argues that they should provide options for delivery, curbside pickup and take-out, but how useful this will be as an alternative is not clear. Sisolak feels, however that the news that a vaccine may be just around the corner is a “light at the end of the tunnel.”
There’s an option if anyone’s worried about the problems in Las Vegas, but it might mean making some adjustments to travel plans. Atlantic City does not intend to step back from its casino business, and maybe visiting a Boardwalk casino this weekend is an acceptable choice if you can catch a flight.