Following the rise in covid-19 cases in the state, the governor of Nevada, Steve Sisolak, directed that capacity in casino gaming floors, bars, and restaurants be reduced to 25 percent from 50 percent. The directive was supposed to last for three weeks at the time. However, on Sunday, December 13, the governor announced an extension of the occupancy limit till January 15, 2021.
There have been complaints regarding the restriction as casino owners, guests, and performers are not at all pleased with the directive. Hotels in Las Vegas have been forced to voluntarily close hotels during the midweek to cut operation costs because of the low occupancy rates.
On Tuesday, December 15, the initial three weeks restriction ought to come to an end, seeing as it was put into effect just before Thanksgiving. A review will be done on the covid-19 numbers before January 15, 2021. The numbers will play a crucial role in what direction the governor will move in, as stricter restrictions may be implemented if things do not get better.
The governor pointed out that tourism and hospitality are the “only big industry” in Southern Nevada, and it will be wise to protect them for the long term. If precautionary measures are not taken, the area could lose its unique edge. The governor has not made any comment on another shutdown, but it is clear he does not favor it. He stated that another shutdown would lead to a $52 million loss in gaming revenues monthly. Also, he expressed concern for the hundreds of thousands that work in casinos, stating that they will be negatively impacted if there is a shutdown or an outbreak of the virus. Hence, it is a very critical situation, and a lot of care and caution needs to be implemented in navigating it.
Impact of Vaccines
Governor Sisolak has instructed that basic covid-19 precautions are taken at all times, especially during this festive season. His response when asked about out-of-state residents returning for the yuletide, he asked that they avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing, and wear a mask.
Things might get better as the state is expecting its first shipment of covid-19 vaccines this week. The total death recorded in Nevada as a result of the virus is 2,539. On Sunday, the state announced 2,882 new cases and 19 deaths.
Businesses will be affected throughout the period, but it is a necessary step to curtail the further spread. A full comeback is expected in the Las Vegas Strip as soon as air travel resumes and the vaccine is readily available. The restrictions may be revised, or completely stopped based on the impact of the vaccine. If all goes well, gaming floors can go back to full capacity.
The state will likely not feel the impact of this extension so much as it is not necessarily a holiday state. It has a negative impact, but it will not be as much as the impact it had during the summer. If there is a time of the year that the loss can be accommodated, it is during the Christmas season.
Everyone understands that these restrictions are put in place to ensure the safety of everyone and is not a witch-hunt. However, it will be a different story if the restriction is still in place when the Super Bowl is about to start. The operators will be doubly-angered if, by February 7, there is no improvement or total scrapping of the restrictions.