Nevada Gov. Sisolak Plans to Reopen Businesses – Not Restaurants and Casinos – by May 15

Posted on: April 30, 2020, 09:42h. 

Last updated on: May 1, 2020, 10:27h.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak unveiled the first part of his COVID-19 recovery program for the state Thursday, saying he wants to begin reopening businesses on May 15, if not sooner. However, casinos will not be among those getting the initial go-ahead to unlock their doors.

Sisolak Nevada Reopening COVID-19
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak rolled out his plan to reopen Nevada businesses, as the state emerges from the COVID-19 crisis that’s killed nearly 250 residents over the past six weeks. (Image: KRXI-TV)

Those first businesses will still face restrictions on how they can operate, and the public will have to abide by social distancing and other health regulations, including wearing masks or other face coverings.

Sisolak’s plan will allow non-essential businesses to open voluntarily under these strict guidelines, with bars, restaurants, casinos, and malls still remaining closed. Sisolak noted that concerns about crowd sizes and the inability to consistently maintain at least six feet of distance in those spaces make them too much of a risk for the time being.

Social gatherings of more than 10 people will also still be prohibited.

The plan is for local counties to become more involved in the recovery process, allowing them to make decisions. However, counties will first need to present their plans to the state, with their guidelines meeting or exceeding state requirements.

“Our response efforts should reflect our regional differences, while still operating under our shared, statewide goal of keeping Nevadans safe and restarting our economy,” Sisolak posted on Twitter Thursday evening.

The Democratic governor still urged Nevadans to limit any trips and make them only for essential items. Those with health issues or exhibiting symptoms, however, must remain home.

The reopening plan announcement came one day after Sisolak announced that the state’s stay-at-home order will be extended to May 15.

Nevada GCB Will Make Call on Casinos

Sisolak remained vague when pressed by reporters on the time frame for reopening Nevada’s casinos and other gaming businesses. In short, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB) will make the final determination.

The Governor said he’s had ongoing talks with gaming industry executives and labor leaders for casino unions. That’s in addition to the conversations GCB Chair Sandra Douglass Morgan had with those individuals.

They’re providing plans for their openings on (an) individual basis,” he said. “These are confidential plans that aren’t shared with each other. She will develop a plan that will work for gaming, and I’m going to leave it up to her and the statistics to determine how quickly that can be.”

While that won’t be at the beginning of the first phase of the COVID-19 reopening plan, Sisolak insinuated that casinos could possibly reopen at some point in that phase on a county-by-county basis. Officials expect phase one to last about two or three weeks.

That could, potentially, allow Clark County, home to Las Vegas and the Strip casinos based just outside the city, to allow casinos to open earlier if they can also get GCB approval.

Some Casinos Pushing for Early Reopening

Some casinos, such as Phil Ruffin’s Treasure Island, have been pushing for a mid-May opening that doesn’t seem likely. Others, such as Wynn Resorts and Caesars Entertainment, have started taking reservations for Memorial Day weekend.

However, in a statement sent to last weekend, Wynn said it was accepting reservations on a contingency basis.

“We are accepting reservation beginning Memorial Day weekend, because it has consistently been a  popular time for Southern California tourists to visit Las Vegas,” Wynn’s statement read. “We hope that by then we may see local, smaller business re-open, testing in significantly greater capacity, and, in parallel, a decline in confirmed COVID cases. We can have all of our protective guest and employee measures in place by that time. Clearly, this decision will be made by regulators and the Governor and we will follow their direction.”

Other Strip properties aren’t as aggressive. MGM Resorts International is not taking any reservations until June, while the Venetian Resort has suspended taking reservations for the time being.