Vegas partially reopened with fewer issues than many expected, but as summer turned into fall and visitors and locals let their guard down cases shot back up quickly. Like every other tourist market in the U.S., Vegas would benefit from a coordinated federal response.
Nevada’s governor, diagnosed with COVID-19 himself earlier this month, said on Sunday he was tightening coronavirus restrictions on casinos, restaurants and bars, while imposing a broader statewide mandate for face-coverings over the next three weeks.
The new measures, effective on Tuesday, come as state and local government leaders around the United States have moved to reinstate a wide range of limits on social and economic life to tame an alarming surge of COVID-19 infections following a summertime lull in the pandemic.
“Whether you believe in the science of COVID or not, the reality is this – COVID is filling up our hospital beds, and that threatens all Nevadans,” Governor Steve Sisolak, a Democrat said in announcing what he called a new “statewide pause.”
The latest restrictions are likely to prove especially tough for a state whose economy, and the livelihood of its biggest city, Las Vegas, are largely dependent on tourism, gaming and the hospitality industry.
Under Sisolak’s latest public health orders, restaurants and bars must reduce operations from 50% to 25% of capacity, with additional social-distancing requirements, including prohibitions on service without advance reservations.
Casinos, which reopened in June after being ordered closed for more than two months following the COVID-19 outbreak, will likewise be capped at 25% capacity.
The same capacity limit will applied to museums, art galleries, libraries, arcades, racetracks and theme parks – all of which had been under a 50% capacity lid previously.
Sisolak’s latest mask mandate will require all individuals to wear face-coverings whenever in the presence of others from outside their immediate household, whether indoors or outdoors.
Private social gatherings are to be restricted to 10 people from no more than two households, whether inside or out, while public assemblies at such venues as movie theaters, theatrical performances, showrooms, weddings, funerals and places of worship will be capped at 50 individuals, or 25% of normal fire-code capacity, whichever is less.
All youth and adult sports tournaments will be suspended altogether.
Sisolak, 66, tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 13, though he said last week he was experiencing only minor symptoms.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; editing by Diane Craft)
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Photo credit: A gambler stacks chips at a roulette table during the reopening of Bellagio hotel-casino, closed since March 16, 2020 as part of steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. June 4, 2020. Steve Marcusm / Reuters