Aria Las Vegas Fined $12K for Breaching Social Distancing Rules, MGM Vows to Appeal

Posted on: November 3, 2020, 02:02h. 

Last updated on: November 4, 2020, 06:21h.

Las Vegas Strip resort Aria has been fined $12,617 for violating Nevada’s coronavirus restrictions, the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said Monday.

Aria does not believe it violated any laws, MGM said in a statement Monday. (Image: YESCO)

OSHA said it launched an investigation into the MGM Resorts International property after receiving a single complaint by a member of Aria staff alleging workplace safety hazards.

The organization agreed with the complaint that there was a lack of social distancing at point-of-sale terminals — or card payment machines — used by employees. In an official statement, MGM Resorts said it contested OSHA’s decision and would appeal.

Seven-Point Plan

The ruling is awkward for a company that has prided itself on its health and safety protocols since emerging from lockdown. It also needs to send a message to potential visitors that its properties are safe.

“Aria has been cooperating with Nevada OSHA and plans to contest the citation and penalty because it does not believe it has violated any safety laws,” the statement said. “There is no higher priority than the health and safety of our guests and employees, and nothing we take more seriously.

Our Seven-Point Safety Plan has clear policies for maintaining safe distances and other important protocols,” continued MGM. “Our employees are trained extensively and held to high standards. We will continue reinforcing these protocols and keeping them top of mind for employees and guests.”

MGM says it developed its safety plan in conjunction with medical and scientific experts to “mitigate the spread of the virus, protect customers and employees, and rapidly respond to potential new cases.” Physical distancing policies are in place throughout its properties, which include floor guides, plexiglass barriers, face shields, and clear signage.

Midweek Closures?

The fine comes after MGM said in its Q3 earnings update that the slow return of tourists to its Strip properties had translated into a loss of $495 million. That’s in contrast with the $238 million in operating income it booked for the corresponding period last year.

“Amid this uncertainty, we are charting a plan for growth,” said CEO Bill Hornbuckle at an earnings call last week. “We head into the end of the fiscal year with a hopeful but cautious view of the future.”

The occupancy rate during the third quarter was just 44 percent, and attracting midweek footfall has been a challenge. On Friday, an MGM spokesperson told The Las Vegas Sun that the company could opt to close some of its properties in the middle of the week, a policy recently adopted by Wynn Resorts. On Tuesday, the company announced the Park MGM would close Monday at noon until Thursdays at noon. The gaming areas, restaurants, and pool will remain open all week.