A number of Las Vegas casinos announced Friday they would reimpose mask mandates for employees regardless of vaccination status, after the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) made a recommendation that everyone wear a mask in crowded indoor public spaces, including casinos.
“With the rise in cases and slowing vaccine rates in Clark County, the Health District’s recommendation to wear masks in crowded public settings, including grocery stores, malls, large events, and casinos, is a step to fully utilize the tools we have available to stop the pandemic,” the SNHD said.
The Venetian, the Palazzo and the Sands Expo & Convention Center, all operated by Las Vegas Sands, were some of the first to adopt the new recommendations and require all employees to wear masks indoors. "In addition, we have revised our signs posted at public entrances to share this new SNHD recommendation. Complimentary face masks are available to our guests at Front Desks, Grazie Desks, and Concierge Desks," the company said in a statement, KTNV reports.
The Westgate hotel-casino is also requiring its employees to mask up again whether or not they are vaccinated. The property on Paradise Road said that they are doing it to keep both their employees and guests safe.
MGM Resorts said it will add new signs throughout its properties to help inform guests and employees of the new recommendations from the Health District, though the company stopped short of saying masks will be required moving forward. “Masks continue to be available at all MGM properties, and we remain vigilant with our health and safety protocols. We are closely monitoring the situation and are continually evaluating policies based on the latest information and circumstances. Our ongoing health and safety commitment incorporates lessons learned over the past year and a half and has permanently embedded health and safety protocols and preparation into our operations,” a company spokesperson told KTNV.
For its part, the Culinary Union continues to encourage hospitality workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine and posted a statement to its website in response to the updated recommendations. "Hospitality workers have had access to the COVID-19 vaccine since March 11, 2021 and as of April 5, 2021, any Nevadan 16 and older can be vaccinated. As hospitality workers and their family members continue to get the vaccine, the Culinary Union continues to encourage workers to take advantage of on-site vaccine clinics at work whenever they are available," the union stated.
The Circa hotel-casino and The D Las Vegas say they are not changing their policy at this time.
Health officials are concerned about the rising number of new cases and the rising number of hospitalizations in Nevada. In Washoe County, health officials said there are no plans to change the mask policy, which recommends people who are unvaccinated wear them while indoors.
According to the Nevada Hospital Association, 64% of licensed hospital beds in Washoe County are occupied. Thirty-four patients who are hospitalized in Washoe County are confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19. Comparatively, in Clark County, 96% of licensed beds are occupied and 770 patients are confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19.
The Washoe County test positivity rate, according to the Nevada Health Response Dashboard, is at 5.9% after being at 2.9% on June 13. In Clark County, the seven-day-average test positivity rate was nearing 16% last week after falling to nearly 4% in early June.
The announcement in Southern Nevada comes one day after Los Angeles County announced that it would be reinstating an indoor masking policy – regardless of vaccination status – due to a recent surge in new COVID-19 cases.