Nevada Casinos Ordered to Reduce Capacity amid New Virus Wave

Nevada’s casinos and other non-essential businesses will be operating at 25% capacity for at least three weeks beginning Tuesday, November 24, as part of a new set of measures announced by Governor Steve Sisolak over the weekend as the state is looking to tackle a new surge of Covid-19 cases.

Gov. Sisolak warned the state’s casino operators that the full force of the Nevada Gaming Control Board would be behind the enforcement of the new measures and that the state gambling establishments “will suffer the consequences” if they fail to follow the new requirements.

Effective 12:01 am Tuesday, occupancy limitations at Nevada’s casinos would be halved to 25%. In March when the coronavirus first hit, the state’s gambling venues were ordered to shut down completely and remain closed until further notice. They were allowed to resume operations at 50% capacity in early June.

The nearly three-month shutdown resulted in massive job cuts and historic unemployment rates across the majority of the state. It also burdened Nevada’s budget with a $1 billion deficit.

During a Sunday press conference, Gov. Sisolak said that the new measures and restrictions were forced by the “rapid trajectory” the state was on and that it threatened to overwhelm its health care system and those employed in it.

Limitations on Gatherings

Gov. Sisolak said Sunday that the size of event gatherings, including at resort showrooms and churches, would be slashed to a maximum of 50 attendees from a maximum of 250 attendees.

This is set to put further strain on Nevada’s convention industry, which had just begun gaining some momentum under the 250-person cap. According to industry experts, the new 50-person limit could result in Las Vegas Strip shows being canceled.

Restaurants and bars that serve food will also move down to 25% capacity. These too are currently operating at 50% capacity. Gov. Sisolak said that these establishments will be required to take reservations. Tables of more than four people would not be allowed. Walk-in diners will not be permitted, as well.

Nevada’s top official said that he understands the “majority of our bars and restaurants are doing their best, but these settings are proven to be high risk because they allow the opportunity for people to remove their face coverings in indoor settings around people outside of their household” and that his is how “the virus spreads.”

Private gatherings around the state will be limited to 10 or fewer attendees. People attending such private gatherings who are not part of the immediate household are urged to wear face masks no matter whether the visit takes place in- or outdoors.

Retail establishments will be allowed to continue to operate at 50% capacity, but fitness centers will be required to adhere to the 25% capacity limitation. Clients at those centers will be required to wear face masks at all times.

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