Restrictions on Nevada casinos are loosening today, February 15. Governor Steve Sisolak has announced that casinos can expand their capacity from the previous 25% limit to 35%.
“As we ease restrictions, we must follow the science and studies, which states clearly and repeatedly that closures to certain settings are more impactful in reducing disease transmission,” Sisolak said February 11 update on Nevada’s COVID-19 response efforts. “While we are hopeful that trends will continue to decrease if all mitigation measures are followed, we must remain flexible – as we have done all along.”
These restrictions could be relaxed thanks to a much-improved Covid-19 transmission rate. Whereas there were 2,709 average daily cases in the early days of December, the most recent 14-day average is 650 cases.
On top of the 10% jump, if the pandemic continues as expected, businesses will be allowed another jump to 50% capacity on March 15. But if everyone does their part and reduces Covid-19 spread by April 15, Nevada will hand control over to local jurisdictions. “In order to reach this goal, counties will have from now through the end of April to demonstrate a decrease in COVID trends, adequate hospital capacity within their region, and evidence that they can continue performing an adequate level,” Sisolak said.
That would be welcome news to Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman. She gained viral infamy in April 2020, arguing Las Vegas should be allowed to re-open at that early date.
But casinos will still have to work with their regulators, and may have their capacity restricted longer than other establishments. “The Gaming Control Board will make that call,” Sisolak said during a virtual press conference. “The Board and the Gaming Commission ultimately have authority over any licensed properties.”
“The goal of this plan is to avoid a scenario where I have to come before all of you again and pause our efforts,” Sisolak said. “I believe this plan can work, but we must all invest in making it successful.”
Casino execs are hopeful that another pause won’t be necessary. “Hopefully with the fact that the numbers seem to be going in the right direction relative to COVID … that are monitored in the Las Vegas market, we’re hopeful in the near future, we will be able to return to higher occupancy levels in our facilities,” Red Rock Resorts Vice Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta said.