ne of the largest resort operators in Las Vegas said Tuesday it is temporarily closing buffets at all of its Las Vegas Strip casino-resorts as a precaution amid concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus. MGM Resorts is also shutting down its Yonkers Raceway track in New York following the death of a track employee afflicted with COVID-19. Also, the announcements were followed Wednesday by confirmation from The Southern Nevada Health District of a coronavirus case involving a guest at MGM’s The Mirage.
MGM Resorts International announced it will close the all-you-can-eat restaurants starting Sunday and re-evaluate the closure every week. Buffets, where diners pay a flat fee and often serve themselves at various food stands with unlimited portions, are a signature staple of most casinos in the gambling destination.
MGM said the decision to close buffets was made out of an abundance of caution and was not recommended by any health officials. Buffets will be closed at seven properties: Aria, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Luxor and Excalibur.
The Culinary Union, which includes hospitality workers in Nevada, said it is sending representatives to bargain with casino companies amid the outbreak.
"Now, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, we are working very hard to monitor the effects on Culinary Union members," the Union said in a statement. "The Culinary Union is sending requests to all of the casino companies to meet immediately and bargain on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. We are evaluating the coronavirus situation daily."
Furthermore, The Southern Nevada Health District announced on Wednesday that one of the new COVID-19 cases is a woman in her 40s from the state of New York. She arrived in Las Vegas on March 5, and attended the Women of Power Summit at The Mirage hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
MGM Resorts International informed guests and employees about the case on Wednesday. The hotel-casino says that it is in the process of deep cleaning and sanitizing the woman's room. Access to the room will be restricted during this process. MGM Resorts is also contacting anyone at the hotel-casino who may have had contact with the victim and directing them to self-quarantine.
The company made the decision to shutter the track Tuesday after learning that an employee of the Standardbred Owners Association based at Yonkers Raceway adjacent to the Empire City Casino tested positive with the coronavirus before dying. The employee, a New Jersey resident, was last at the track eight days ago.
“As a result of this development, the racetrack will be shut down as of this afternoon, and we have asked employees who worked in the immediate area to self-quarantine,” the company said in a statement released Tuesday. “We will continue to coordinate with and follow the guidance of health officials and support them in their response and prevention efforts.”