Nevada Casinos Urged to Follow Union’s Safety Guidelines Before Reopening

  • Labor union UNITE HERE issued checklist for better employee, guest protection amid pandemic
  • Recommendations include providing surgical masks for patrons, contactless tipping methods
  • Employers requested to shut down slots, reconfigure game floor for social distancing
  • Non-invasive temperature screening should be provided for both workers and casino guests
  • Union president said gaming regulators must take action if operators fail to adhere to guidelines
Workplace health and safety guide book
UNITE HERE has issued a six-page checklist for Nevada casinos to follow ahead of their reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Update: Following 40 minutes of public comment on May 7, the Nevada Gaming Commission unanimously approved guidelines that pave the way for more than 400 casinos to reopen.

Providing a safer work environment

US labor union UNITE HERE has released a six-page checklist of public health guidelines it wants Las Vegas casinos to follow before reopening to the public.

The parent organization of the Nevada-based Culinary Workers Union has requested better protections for employees and guests amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The guidelines, issued on May 5, are stricter than the recommendations recently provided by state gaming regulators.

UNITE HERE’s recommendations

Several recommendations that appear on the list include providing surgical masks for patrons to wear in public areas and contactless tipping methods. The guidelines also suggest that gaming companies should fund testing to determine if an employee has or has had the virus.

shut down some slot machines or reconfigure the layout to allow patrons to stay six feet apart

The union has also asked casino employers to install plexiglass guards at front desks to protect individuals from sneezing and coughing, as well as to suspend buffet surfaces. Casinos should shut down some slot machines or reconfigure the layout to allow patrons to stay six feet apart.

Non-invasive temperature screening should be provided for employees and guests at all entrances. Casinos must turn away guests who have a temperature of 100.4°F or higher. High-touch items like menus and other items need to be replaced with disposable options, while non-touch time clocks should be used to track employees.

Prioritizing employee, patron health and safety

UNITE HERE International president D. Taylor stated that worker and casino guest health and safety are a top priority of the union. He added that the organization consulted with public health officials and experts in industrial hygiene to create a set of guidelines that consider the sanitization and health of gaming faculties.

if they won’t, the gaming regulators of the states in which they operate must take action”

Taylor said: “The casino companies need to work with us to ensure a healthy and safe environment when casinos re-open, and if they won’t, the gaming regulators of the states in which they operate must take action.”

Gaming Control Board guidelines

The union’s public health recommendations come just a few days after the Nevada Gaming Control Board announced its reopening guidelines. Casinos are to remain closed until the stay-at-home order is lifted on May 15.

VSO News reported that the board has asked license holders to submit a plan seven days before their intended reopening date, outlining how they intend to create a safe and healthy work environment. Casinos will only be allowed to open at 50% capacity, with new seating arrangements and a reconfigured floor plan required. Social distancing must also be maintained at table games, with equipment disinfected on a regular basis.

Nevada casinos shut down on March 17.