Gov. Sisolak Affirms June 4 Reopening Date for Nevada Casinos, Promises Visitor Safety

Posted on: May 27, 2020, 05:06h. 

Last updated on: May 27, 2020, 09:27h.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak is now “confident” that the state’s casinos can begin to resume operations on June 4 with appropriate safeguards in place after months of coronavirus-related closures.

Gov. Sisolak Greenlights Casino Reopenings
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak gave the green light for casinos to reopen on June 4 based on current health data, as well as safeguards recommended by the state’s Gaming Control Board. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

In a far-reaching update on business reopenings, Sisolak said in a statement released late Tuesday that “positive” trends in the number of cases and information presented by local and state officials during a Nevada Gaming Control Board meeting earlier in the day “affirmed” the target date.

He says the state continues “to see a consistent and sustainable downward trajectory of percentage of positive COVID-19 cases.” There is also a decrease in the trend related to COVID-19 hospitalizations.

During the workshop, the gaming board “was briefed on how … various entities have worked with the gaming industry to ensure that there is a comprehensive plan in place to respond to and mitigate the effects of positive cases of COVID-19 that present themselves in the State’s resort corridors,” Sisolak said.

The gaming board was expected to issue an updated “industry notice” Wednesday outlining the latest requirements for casinos resuming operations. The notice will reflect several concerns raised by health officials on Tuesday during the gaming board meeting.

These range from topics such as social distancing to disinfection, as well as temperature checks on casino visitors and workers, to the handling of those who are suspected of having coronavirus.

The gaming board has stressed its policies are flexible enough to respond to any changes seen in the state, and says safety of workers and casino visitors is the top concern. But it has basically avoided strict universal guidelines, instead requiring casinos to submit individual reopening plans.

It is critical to put the health and safety of employees, residents, and visitors first through proactive measures, coupled with the Health and Safety Policies issued by the Gaming Control Board,” Sisolak said in Tuesday’s statement. “This is what will help ensure that Nevada can safely reopen its gaming industry on June 4.”

The governor initially ordered casinos to suspend their operations on March 17. The shuttering directive was later extended based on health conditions.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission have set broad policies so casinos are ready to reopen based on the governor’s recommended timetable. “I know the Gaming Control Board remains resolute in ensuring that gaming operations in this State do not compromise the health and safety of Nevadans, our employees, and our visitors,” Sisolak said in the statement.

Also, the Gaming Control Board can choose to approve closed or spectator-free performances on gaming properties during the new phase of reopenings.

We will certainly be welcoming visitors back to Nevada on June 4,” Sisolak added in a brief call with reporters on Tuesday. “We’ve taken every precaution possible.”

“I don’t think you’re going to find a safer place to come than Las Vegas on June 4 with the protocols that we’ve put in place, the testing that we put in place,” Sisolak added. “We’re encouraging visitors to come and enjoy themselves and have a good time.”

Health Data Is Leading to Business Reopenings

In addition, Nevada, overall, is ready to start Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan this Friday, the governor announced on Tuesday. Relevant health data led to the decision.

The governor reported the rate of the number of people testing positive for the virus compared to the total number of tests performed declined to 6.5 percent. “We have been in a downward trend for 31 days — a full month,” Sisolak said.

The state has also seen a 35-day downward trend in the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 cases. Intensive care and ventilator use by coronavirus patients was flat over the Memorial Day weekend. Hospitals also have sufficient capacity to manage a potential surge in cases, Sisolak said.

“Nevadans have done an incredible job helping to flatten the curve, and I want to again thank you for understanding the severity of this health care crisis and for taking the necessary precautionary measures, like making a face covering a part of everyday wear,” Sisolak said in the statement. “Our collective actions have helped bring us to where we are today, ready to begin Phase 2 of reopening.”

During Phase 2, people should continue to wear face coverings in public and maintain at least six feet of social distancing when in public and around people from other households, the governor said.

Also in Phase 2, Nevadans can increase public and private gatherings from no more than 10 people to no more than 50 people, while continuing to follow social distancing, the governor added. There are some businesses that remain closed in Phase 2. These include those related to adult entertainment, brothels, nightclubs, and day clubs

Restrictions on restaurants and food establishments are continued in Phase 2, as well, but bar areas in restaurants may reopen, and bars and taverns that do not serve food may reopen under the same restrictions — 50 percent maximum capacity and strict social distancing.

Sisolak in Self-Quarantine after Possible Coronavirus Exposure

Sisolak was forced to cancel a planned Tuesday press conference on the reopening plan after he possibly was exposed to COVID-19, though he has no symptoms. Then, “technical difficulties” prevented the governor’s office from releasing a planned recorded video on the topic.

Instead, the governor provided the update through a written statement. Additional industry-specific guidance is likely to be released Wednesday.

“Out of an abundance of caution, I will be quarantining in the Nevada Governor’s Mansion in Carson City until I receive results of a COVID-19 test I took today,” Sisolak said on Tuesday. “I will let you know as soon as I get the results.”