Capacity cut in half again

As daily new cases of COVID-19, as well as hospitalizations and deaths resulting from the virus, continue skyrocket around the country, Nevada casinos are facing a new round of restrictions. Beginning a minute after midnight on Tuesday, casinos are required to drop their capacity limits from 50 percent to 25 percent.

“I am not issuing a shutdown order,” said Governor Steve Sisolak in a virtual press conference on Sunday. “My goal is to aggressively try to attack this spread, while maintaining some portion of our economy and our daily lives.”

Sisolak held the press conference over the internet from his home because he himself is recovering from COVID-19, though fortunately it was a mild case.

Josh Swissman, founding partner of The Strategy Organization consulting group, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the 25 percent capacity limit shouldn’t be too big of a deal during the week, but will likely prove to be quite painful on the weekends. Naturally, for a tourist city, that is when the most visitors show up.

The cap on gatherings has also been reduced from 250 people all the way down to 50 people, which could force cancellations of entertainment. It won’t have much of an effect on convention business, as it has been essentially non-existent since the mid-March shutdowns. Things were starting to pickup slightly, so this new mandate will nip that in the bud.

Nevada Gaming Control Board chairman Brin Gibson said that his agency will be very tough on casinos when it comes to the new rules.

“The more successfully Nevada mitigates the current spread of COVID over the next several weeks, the more likely we are to experience a complete return to current gaming floor occupancy percentages at that point,” he said.

Some casinos closing hotels on weekdays

On top of the capacity restrictions, Mirage and Mandalay Bay decided close their hotels on weekdays starting November 30 and going through the rest of the year. The official closing duration will be noon Monday through noon Thursday.

“We are constantly evaluating occupancy levels and adjusting operations accordingly,” said MGM Resorts International in a statement. “With occupancy remaining low during the weekdays, we have decided to temporarily close hotel tower operations at Mandalay Bay and the Mirage Monday through Thursday, effective Nov. 30.”

Casinos, restaurants, and other services that were already open will remain open.

MGM already made a similar move with ParkMGM. Mirage, Mandalay Bay, and Excalibur also recently decided to permanently shut down their poker rooms.

Pandemic numbers are ugly

As is the case all over the country, Nevada’s COVID-19 figures are spiking right now, with no real signs of going back down any time soon. There have been more than 2,000 new cases recorded in the state in five of the last ten days; the statistic never came within sneezing distance of those levels before November. Even during the summer peak, the highest number of new cases in day was less than 1,500.

The seven-day moving average of new cases is now over 2,000, as well, and is still climbing. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 (confirmed and suspected) have tripled since the beginning of October.

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