Concerns about coronavirus case numbers
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak presented a new strategy to roll out vaccines to essential workers and those working in important economic sectors, such as frontline casino employees. The news on Monday afternoon came alongside the announcement that current COVID-19 restrictions in the state will remain in place for another 30 days.
The governor tweeted out the live stream outlining the latest updates on pandemic measures:
As a result of the ongoing statewide “pause”, casinos still have to operate at reduced capacity as strict health and safety rules continue to be observed. Health officials in Nevada need more time to properly gauge the impact that gatherings and events during the recent holidays had on virus numbers, Gov. Sisolak added.
December holiday gatherings could lead to higher virus case numbers
The governor warned that December holiday gatherings could lead to higher virus case figures in the coming two weeks. He said new infections resulting from New Year’s Eve celebrations will not be measurable until the end of the month, adding: “It’s for these reasons that we will be continuing the mitigation measures that are currently in place.”
The extension of the COVID-19 restrictions will help alleviate some of the strain on local hospitals.
Protecting the hospitality sector
Nevada has had a high coronavirus infection rate in recent weeks. Public health officials confirmed 1,681 new cases on Monday, bringing the state’s overall total to more than 250,000. The death toll has reached 3,500, averaging at a daily figure of 19 over the past two weeks.
such employees essential to “the hospitality capital of the world”
A key goal of the new vaccine rollout strategy is to increase the scope of eligible participants, extending the initial target audience to include hospitality and food service workers. Gov. Sisolak deemed such employees essential to “the hospitality capital of the world.” He did not indicate a vaccine rollout time frame.
Nevada Resort Association president Virginia Valentine welcomed the new vaccination strategy, saying it will protect resort workers and their families, help with hospital capacity, and allow the state’s hospitality sector to stay open in a safe manner.
Until Sunday, the state had administered 61,644 vaccines, including more than 8,700 second doses.
Impact on Nevada’s gambling economy
The current statewide “pause” requires casinos, restaurants, and bars to operate at 25% capacity. The facilities also have to adhere to health and safety guidelines originally introduced in June 2020. The wearing of masks is mandatory throughout the state.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a big impact on the Nevada casino sector, with gaming revenue falling 34.5% year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2020. Revenues for Las Vegas Strip properties dropped even further, dropping by 42.6%. Overall visitor numbers to Las Vegas declined by 54.4% for the period.
Many hotel-casinos in Sin City are no longer opening midweek as a result of dwindling business due to COVID-19.