Nevada Casinos, Businesses Gain Clearer Outlook With New COVID-19 Strategy

  • Gov. Sisolak hopes to roll out new long-term mitigation measures as early as next Monday
  • Resorts, many housing casinos, could face closure if found serving unmasked patrons
  • New advisory group to work on enhanced enforcement and targeting to curb COVID-19 spread
  • Four Nevada counties remain on restrictions, including Vegas and Reno gambling heartlands  
Nevada road sign against blue sky backdrop
Governor Steve Sisolak’s announcement of a new long-term COVID-19 strategy will give Nevada’s casinos and other businesses a clearer outlook going forward. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

More focus on localized COVID-19 indicators

Nevada’s current phased reopening plan will soon be superseded, with Governor Steve Sisolak announcing Monday an imminent “long-term mitigation strategy” set to give businesses – including casinos – a clearer outlook going forward.

Instead of crunching data on a county level, the new rules of coronavirus engagement will become more localized, focusing on municipalities and even individual zip codes.

Joined in the briefing by Caleb Cage, state of Nevada COVID-19 response director, and Julia Peek, deputy administrator of community health services, Sisolak said in a Tweet that he hoped to roll out the new strategy next Monday:

Sisolak also quoted “some positive signs” emerging from the Silver State’s coronavirus-related data, stating Nevada’s R-rate of infection has dipped from a national high of 1.53 for June to .98.

Straight-talking Sisolak

Sisolak praised some local bodies but warned municipal governments which are not doing their part that “the state will be reaching out to you this week with the expectation that you will be stepping up.”

resorts, many of which house casinos, could have some or all of their property shut

“Time for education is over […] no more excuses”, the governor announced during the press conference. In addition, Sisolak forewarned businesses that the new strategy will consider closing establishments found to be serving unmasked customers. Under the new strategy, resorts, many of which house casinos, could have some or all of their property shut for a period of time.

The governor went on to express his excitement in Caleb Cage leading the state’s new advisory group.

Made up “of agency directors in charge of enforcement, public health and more” in addition to local government and hospital representatives, the group will review the criteria, data, and progress made weekly in relation to COVID-19. It will work “on enhanced enforcement, focused targeting and next steps to reduce the spread,” Sisolak added.

Three counties off the hook

A report from the Center for Public Integrity over a week ago classed Nevada as a pandemic hotspot. Acknowledging the reality that Nevada still has a “high prevalence of COVID-19”, Sisolak’s Monday briefing explained that improvements in the counties of Humboldt, Lander, and Lyon allowed the trio to return to statewide standards with immediate effect.

The lifting of restrictions referenced includes the reopening of pubs, bars, and taverns at 50% capacity. Social distancing and mandatory face coverings must continue as standard.

a considerable percentage of the state’s restricted gaming venues

Four counties remain on restrictions, including Clark, Elko, Nye, and Washoe. Clark and Washoe remain particularly impacted, as both county seats encompass the casino heartlands of Las Vegas Valley and Reno respectively. Here, bars and taverns make up a considerable percentage of the state’s restricted gaming venues.

Sisolak observed that the pandemic has devastated Nevada’s economy and left hundreds of thousands of Nevadans out of work. Describing each decision his office makes as “gut-wrenching […] walking a tightrope between the health of our residents and the financial stability of your families and our state”, he said there were “no win-win decisions in the battle against COVID-19.”