LAS VEGAS — The Nevada Gaming Control Board isn’t reconsidering requiring facial coverings for casino patrons, but will if new COVID-19 cases reach the point of overburdening Southern Nevada hospitals.
Sandra Morgan, who is the Gaming Control Board Chairwoman, stated that she is not looking to implement such a change, while the Southern Nevada Health District’s acting chief health officer has issued pleas for casino customers to wear masks to protect employees.
“Per our current policy, all casino employees must be wearing masks. Licensees must have masks available for patrons and should strongly encourage patrons to wear them,” Morgan said Monday. “If that data changes and our percentage of positive cases increase, I would consider additional measures to ensure our health care system is not overburdened.”
Fermin Leguen, the lead health care adviser on COVID-19 in Southern Nevada, issued a statement Monday encouraging the use of facial coverings after seeing reports of fewer than half the people inside casinos wearing them. The Gaming Control Board developed its face-covering policies last month ahead of the June 4 reopening of Nevada’s casinos, after seven health care professionals, including Leguen, offered input on the issue. Leguen said Monday businesses “have a moral obligation to protect this community,” adding that mask usage would contribute to decreasing the spread of the coronavirus.
“Unfortunately, as more businesses are opening and people are beginning to resume their normal activities, it is easy to forget that we are still responding to a
pandemic and precautions need to be taken,” Leguen said. “I would ask our community and visitors to show the same regard for the public health and safety of the people who are providing you with services during these unprecedented times.”
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said at least half of the visitors he saw when touring casinos on June 5, the day after casinos reopened their doors after 78 days of being shuttered, had masks on.
“I’m pretty proud of that. I think that’s a pretty good start,” he said at the time, while wearing a “Battle Born” Clark County Nevada mask himself. Sisolak reiterated that masks for casino customers would continue on a voluntary basis during Monday’s press conference
“Employees are all wearing masks and they’re going out of their way to encourage customers to wear masks,” Sisolak said. “They’re even offering incentives to get customers to wear masks” (though the governor did not cite any examples). Some of them are more successful than others.
“We’re going to continue to pursue it right now on a voluntary basis.”
While the Gaming Control Board has not ordered casino patrons to wear a facial covering, individual properties can require it and some have ordered table game players to do that. Caesars Entertainment Corp. properties require players at tables at Caesars Palace, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Harrah’s Laughlin, Flamingo and The Linq Hotel to wear masks when they sit down to play.
Many patrons have reported inconsistencies in the following of social distancing guidelines as per the NGC and the governors office as well as in the wearing of masks in casinos by patrons.
Many of the Vegas casinos such as Wynn Resorts Ltd. were performing temperature screenings and are offering facial coverings to guests as they arrive.
Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver said in an email “Late last week, we instituted a program to expand the installation of protective Plexiglas barriers between guests and employees to nearly all table games and any guest playing tables that does not have a protective barrier will be required to wear a face covering.”
The coming two weeks COVID-19 data likely will determine if the NGC begins requiring patrons to don facial protection, but for now it remains on a voluntary basis.