While many Nevadans are eager to return their normal lives pre-coronavirus, Gov. Steve Sisolak is taking a measured, safe approach to reopening the state.
On last Saturday, May 9, Nevada entered into Phase 1 of its reopening plan which allowed retail businesses, restaurants, barbershops, hair and nail salons to finally open their doors after being shuttered for nearly two months.
The reopening of those sectors came with some restrictions, as to be expected, which include strict social distancing guidelines and allowing only 50 percent occupancy, per the local fire code. The state is expected to stay in Phase 1 for two weeks.
But while this is a good start to officially reopening Nevada, some think it’s not soon enough. Despite conflicting opinions, Sisolak is set on reopening the Silver State in the safest possible manner.
“We will be evaluating when it is safe to move into the second phase. Our goal is to continue reopening Nevada in a safe manner. What we do now will determine what we can do next,” Sisolak said.
Two Weeks Needed to Measure Phase 1 Before Moving to Next Phase
As outlined in Sisolak’s reopening plan, a recorded steady rate or decline of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations must be seen before the state can determine that it’s safe to move onto the next phase. State officials need to see a full two weeks of results from Phase 1 to gauge its impact and consider whether easing more restrictions is the right move.
According to Sisolak, Nevada has seen a 20-day decline in positive COVID-19 test results, dropping 3 percent in positive readings from 12 to 9 percent. Currently, Nevada has 6,600 positive coronavirus cases and 339 related deaths.
The aggressive action to shut down casinos statewide was done to help contain the virus. Gov. Sisolak and his team of experts assured Nevadans that it was an effective move and one that prevented the number of cases in Nevada from reaching the tens of thousands.
While the downward trajectory of the daily rate of positive cases looks promising, Sisolak says it’s still possible that negative data could cause the state to roll back some of the re-openings. And, there’s still no definitive date as to when casinos can reopen.
Memorial Day Weekend Reopening Unlikely
Around 35 properties started accepting reservations for Memorial Day Weekend, including Treasure Island and Wynn Resorts. With past trends, the holiday would be an ideal time for Las Vegas to return, especially with the large percentage of visitors that come into town from Southern California.
Should rooms book up for the Memorial Day holiday weekend and casinos still aren’t given the green light to reopen, the properties will likely inform guests of the cancellations and issue any refunds that are due.
Restaurants in Casinos Allowed to Operate
In an unexpected twist, the announcement of Phase 1 restaurant re-openings also means that restaurants in casinos are allowed to reopen, too. That might seem off-putting, given the fact that casinos are still closed.
But while restaurants in casinos are allowed to reopen, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will. Allowing restaurants in casinos to reopen while casinos are to remain closed poses many logistical and economic challenges.
According to experts, it just might not be the smartest move for many casino operators. Amanda Belarmino, assistant professor of strategic management at UNLV, says reopening restaurants in casinos that aren’t set up for street access could pose a big challenge in keeping people from roaming inside of hotel-casinos that are closed to the public.
However, Belarmino says some Strip casinos have the type of set up that could make this work, given the current restrictions.
Restaurants and other industry sectors that were allowed to reopen weren’t really given any advance notice, so even though they can technically open right now, it will take some time figuring out how to make their operations work again amid reopening during the pandemic.
According to the Governor, the state Gaming Control Board’s decision to allow restaurants to reopen in gaming establishments was mainly done to support rural communities in Nevada whose only option for restaurant establishments exist within gaming establishments.
Testing Ramps Up in Nevada
With the data of testing instrumental in determining how Nevada moves throughout its phased reopening plan, it was important for Sisolak to get testing ramped up throughout the state.
Across the state, almost 2,500 people are being tested for coronavirus daily. The Orleans recently set up a drive-thru testing site on the first floor of its parking garage for all comers to get tested. A few Walmart locations across the valley have also begun offering COVID-19 testing in its parking lots as well.
According to health officials, there have been 85,791 tests conducted on 72,146 people.
Just last week, the state conducted 17,000 coronavirus tests, averaging out to a daily total of close to 2,500 a day. Now, Sisolak says, the state has the testing capabilities to meet the goal it set of performing 4,000 tests a day.
Sisolak argued that people have to go and get tested, and is strongly encouraging them to do so, especially with the testing capacity increased.
The Virus is Still Here, Nevadans Must Continue to Take It Seriously
Governor Sisolak continues to praise those Nevadans who are taking social distancing guidelines seriously, saying that they’ve saved lives by doing so. He also commented on reopened businesses that are not acting in compliance with the CDC’s guidelines of social distancing.
“Unfortunately, their negligence puts Nevadans at risk, so there will be repercussions as a result of that,” Sisolak said. “We must all continue to take this virus seriously. We know this virus is not gone. We’ve made progress, but the virus is here.”
For the Nevada Governor, it seems the old adage “Slow and steady wins the race” will be the pace Nevada needs to follow if it wants to reopen safely and successfully.
We know that it’s not just Nevadans who are eager for the state to open back up, but visitors who will be coming from out of town.
When do you think casinos will reopen in Las Vegas? Do you agree with Governor Sisolak’s measured approach? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Be sure to check back for more coronavirus coverage, and as always, stay safe until we meet again!