Las Vegas industry workers haven’t been on the job for close to two months now, and with the casino shutdown closer to being lifted, there are mixed emotions about returning to work amid the pandemic.
It seems casino operators won’t just have to worry about easing visitors’ concerns, but it’ll take putting the right precautions into place to bring back worried furloughed staff members as well.
Many casino operators have begun outlining their coronavirus safety measures over the last week.
Those measures include thermal screenings of guests entering casinos, temperature checks, rearranging casinos floors to support social distancing, and staff members using gloves/masks.
But while those measures have been announced, some industry workers don’t immediately feel comfortable going back to work with the virus still in the air.
Workers Express their Worries
Among those who are concerned about returning to work include Robert Elwell, a poker dealer at Planet Hollywood. Elwell, 55, says he’s concerned he’s uncomfortable about the idea of returning to work amid the pandemic because he’s older.
Elwell says that while he knows other workers who are eager to get back to work and back to the money, his life is more important than an uncertain job outlook.
He added that “only time and a vaccine” would make concerned workers want to come back.
Other dealers, like Barb Licht, a craps dealer at the Venetian, worry about being able to deal while wearing gloves.
Licht, who doesn’t have a problem with wearing a mask on the job, says that “there’s not a single dealer that can deal craps, or any game, properly with a pair of gloves.”
However, she’d feel more at peace if chips were sanitized since many hands will be touching them.
Other Workers Are Eager to Return and Connect With Guests
The thought of returning to work during this time has been a mixed bag for those who be interacting with the public on a daily basis.
Some workers can’t wait to get back in on the action and return to “normal Vegas.”
Todd Henderson, a ticket writer for Treasure Island who was furloughed during the shutdown, says he can’t wait to get back to work after being shut in this whole time.
Henderson says he’s looking forward to interacting with people again, and aren’t we all? Concerns of getting sick don’t seem to bother him. He says as long as he has a mask on, and people are keeping their space and following the rules, he feels good about returning to work.
Helping Workers Feel More at Ease
According to Bobbie Barnes, an assistant professor in residence at UNLV’s College of Hospitality, open communication with employees about what’s going on in the respective casinos will be key in helping workers feel more at peace upon returning.
Whatever guidelines casinos are aiming to put into place should be clearly communicated with employees.
Barnes says that when employees can see the structured details that are being discussed, it gives them a greater sense of ease because they’re not in the dark about what’s going on, and because there’s a strategic battle plan being put into motion.
Barnes also recommended that companies stay flexible and understanding to those furloughed workers who aren’t ready to return yet.
He says that certain unions, like the Culinary Union Local 226, are able to negotiate return dates for those who are wary about returning to work right away once casinos reopen.
It will be interesting to see how things fare once Las Vegas opens back up.
We do trust that casino operators are doing everything in their power to make sure their guests and employees are welcomed back into a safe space. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out in the coming weeks.
Be sure to check back for updates related to the coronavirus crisis in Las Vegas. Stay safe until then everyone!