The Nevada Gaming Commission is reviewing new health and safety policy statements put out by the state Gaming Control Board which detail requirements for the reopening of Vegas casinos. Casinos that are able to meet those guidelines will be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks.
The guidelines include an overview of what will be required to obtain a license to reopen. Restricted and non-restricted licenses for land-based and will be given with non-restricted licenses relating to small venues such as convenience stores, restaurants, bars and supermarkets. Online casinos are not included in the licensing requirements.
For both a restricted and a non-restricted licenses, the business must present a detailed reopening plan. There is no state requirement for masks but some operators are expected to make that requirement in their own venues.
Casinos in Nevada have been closed since March 17th when Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered them to close to prevent additional coronavirus infections. There is, as of yet, no official date for that order to be retracted but Sisolak has said that he will ease up on restrictions as the state reaches benchmarks including a decline in new cases and improved levels of contact tracing and expanding testing.
Each operator has suggested its own hoped-for reopening date – some casinos expect to be able to reopen by Memorial Day while others forsee a longer period of closure.
The Control Board’s requirements include mandates for:
- Properties to limit occupancy to no more than 50% of each gaming area’s assigned limit, according to the local building and fire codes. Estimates of occupancy numbers will include slot machine accounting systems, surveillance systems and head counts by staff.
- The slot machine room must be organized in a way that players are distanced from one another. Stools and chairs can be placed in front of every other gaming machine so that players don’t site adjacent to each other.
- Signs to be place in any area where customers queue, reminding people to maintain social distancing.
- Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer must be available to casino employees and patrons.
- Staff should be assigned to keep people from congregating in groups.
- Race and sportsbook areas, bingo halls, keno lounges and other gaming areas must be organized in such a way as to prevent groups from gathering or people from congregating. Those areas must be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
- Table games must be organized in a way that gamers don’t sit close to each other. There can be 6 players per craps table, 4 players per poker table and 3 players per blackjack table.
- Table games, dice, chairs, card shoes, roulette wheels, pai gow tiles, rails, shufflers, pit podiums, tip boxes and blackjack discard holders must be cleaned and disinfected whenever an employee or new player comes in contact with the item. Cards and chips will also need to be disinfected.
- All nightclubs and other entertainment venues to remain closed. Hotels, restaurants, swimming pools and retail establishments will operate according to directives as issued by federal, state and local governing authorities. These include reduced seating so that there’s appropriate distancing between customers and between one table and the next.
- Meetings and convention guidelines with social distancing at all events and groups of no more than 250 people. Food service for conventions and meetings will be managed under government restrictions and served by staff.
Venues receiving smaller restricted licensees will be limited to the 50 percent occupancy social distancing rules. It was suggested that a slot machine’s ticket and bill validator be covered to prevent customers from using those machines.
Vegas Starts to Reopen
In the meantime, other parts of Vegas have already started to open. Most stores are requiring customers to wear masks and employees are required to wear masks in all shops. Many chain stores are slower to reopen but small businesses are taking the plunge.
There are differences. The farmer’s market is open but it’s a drive-through. Other stores are limiting the number of customers that they allow to enter and most have less staff because many of their employees were laid off.
Salons and barbershops opened and were mostly working by appointment. Many passed out lists of guidelines to their customers including instructions for sanitizing and wearing masks.
Vegas hopes that air travel will start bringing out-of-state patrons back to the casinos but flying the friendly skies is going to be different. Frontier Airlines, which serves Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport, has already announced that it will conduct temperature screenings of all passengers and employees. Any passenger who records a temperature of 100.4 degrees or more will not be allowed on the plane.
Frontier CEO Barry Biffle said. “This new step during the boarding process, coupled with face coverings and elevated disinfection procedures, will serve to provide Frontier customers an assurance that their well-being is our foremost priority and we are taking every measure to help them travel comfortably and safely.”
Customers who are denied boarding will be allowed to rebook on a later date.
The Transportation Security Administration has been asked whether they will be taking more of a rule in the screening of passengers when they enter an airport but so far, no decision has been made on TSA taking an active role in the screening
In addition to the temperature checks, Frontier will begin boarding passengers from the rear of the aircraft to the front. Passengers will be encouraged to maintain 6 feet of separation during the boarding process. Passengers will be required to wear face coverings on all flights and, before boarding, to confirm that:
— They understand and will abide by the airline’s face covering policy.
— Neither they nor any household member has exhibited COVID-19 -related symptoms over the course of the last 2 weeks.
— They will sanitize their hands before they board their flight.
Additional precautions that Frontier is taking include:
- Adding a fogging disinfectant to its aircraft sanitation and cleaning protocols which accounts for every surface in the passenger cabin to be wiped down with additional disinfectant.
- Mixing the main cabin air with fresh air during flight time. The fresh air comes in from outside and passes through an air filtration system of HEPA filters.