3 Vegas casinos fully opening after 80% worker vaccinations


LAS VEGAS (AP) – Some Las Vegas Strip casinos have been allowed to open at 100% capacity, officials said Tuesday, after showing Nevada state regulators that at least 80% of their employees have received at least one shot of coronavirus vaccine.

Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas representatives said they gained approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board over the weekend to lift occupancy and physical distancing requirements and remove clear plastic separators from gambling tables.

“Employees and guests will continue to follow health and safety guidelines, including mask compliance, to ensure a safe and comfortable environment,” a Wynn Resorts statement said.

The board, which regulates casinos, set an 80% vaccination goal – while Clark County lawmakers with jurisdiction over Las Vegas-area restaurants, stores and other businesses approved plans to allow 100% occupancy once 60% of eligible county residents get a vaccine shot.

State health officials on Tuesday reported the Clark County first-dose public vaccination figure at almost 45.5%, with more than one in three people fully vaccinated.

At the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore resorts, company spokesman Michael Weaver said the first- or single-dose employee vaccination rate reached 88%.

The Cosmopolitan said 80% of its more than 4,000 employees received at least a first dose of vaccine.

The company offered workers $1 million worth of bonuses to get shots, and reported a big jump in vaccinations in the past two weeks. It said the offer would continue until Saturday.

“We believe the only clear path to normalcy and bringing our entire workforce back is through vaccinations,” William McBeath, Cosmopolitan president and CEO said in a news release.

The tourism and hospitality industry needs to demonstrate safety for visitors and guests, he said.

The Gaming Control Board typically does not release information about regulatory contact with licensees. Spokesman Michael Lawton declined Tuesday to say if other properties had been approved for 100% occupancy.

Officials contacted at Caesars Entertainment Inc., MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands, Boyd Gaming and Station Casinos did not provide similar announcements about capacity increases.

Several of those companies have opened employee vaccination clinics and encouraged workers and their families to get shots.

In the Cosmopolitan statement, Gaming Control Board Chairman J. Brin Gibson praised the company for “smart and swift action” and said regulators asked it “to share their methodology, strategy and success with the wider hospitality industry.”

Capacity limits were enacted when casinos reopened last June after being shuttered for nearly 12 weeks. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed emergency directives aimed at preventing people from gathering and spreading COVID-19.

Restrictions have been relaxed in phases as vaccinations have ramped up.

Last Saturday, all casinos and most businesses in Clark County, including the Las Vegas Strip resort corridor, were allowed to raise capacity from 50% to 80% and reduce person-to-person distancing to 3 feet (0.9 meters). Masks are still required indoors and for people in large crowds outdoors.

The governor, a Democrat, has set a June 1 target for lifting almost all coronavirus mitigation restrictions statewide. He has said mask mandates will remain in place indefinitely.

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