Las Vegas Sun

September 27, 2021

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Nevada eyes June 1 return to full capacity in pandemic rebound

El Cortez Rennovation Tour

Steve Marcus

A view of a Strip casinos from a Tower Premium King room at the El Cortez in downtown Las Vegas Friday, Feb. 12, 2021.

Updated Tuesday, April 13, 2021 | 8 p.m.

Nevada is positioned to return to full capacity June 1 after more than a year of reduced business levels because of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced today.

The state, which was closed to all nonessential business for nearly 90 days beginning in mid-March 2020, has been gradually reopening since last June.

But with virus cases decreasing, including no deaths in the past two days, and the vaccine reaching hundreds of thousands of residents, officials are poised to take a significant step to return toward normalcy. Nevada is currently at 50% capacity, although some of the resort corridor has featured shoulder-to-shoulder traffic on recent weekends.

"Nevada, we are closer to the end than the beginning," Sisolak said.

Sisolak also said the state would transition the social distancing mandate to individual counties beginning May 1 because “each county in Nevada is unique and has different factors to consider: rural or urban settings, community transmission rates in the area, and vaccine administration, among a few.”

“This is one of the best measures I can take as your governor to increase flexibility and remove roadblocks for local authorities as they take over authority of mitigation measures,” Sisolak said. “This is also a critical step to help ensure that by June 1, full capacity means full capacity.”

School districts and charter school sponsors will also take control of mitigation measures in schools on May 1.

“As we know, school communities throughout the state vary greatly and there are multiple factors to be considered as each superintendent or charter school sponsor and governing board consults with staff and families to determine what’s safest and best to ensure healthy learning and working environments,” Sisolak said.

He said the introduction of vaccine “changed the game.” The widespread availability of vaccines and the inoculation of much of the state’s vulnerable population were among the main reasons he felt comfortable with the change.

Almost 40% of Nevadans age 16 and older have received one dose of the vaccine, while 25% are fully inoculated.

Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, praised the move to allow full occupancy at all venues starting June 1.

"The wide availability and rapid administration of vaccines will allow our valued events industry to reconvene with confidence and in its entirety," Hill said in a statement. "Las Vegas will continue providing the gold standard for health, wellness and safety precautions for the benefit of its workforce, the community and our visitors.”

Caesars Entertainment also applauded the news: "We are grateful for Governor Sisolak’s continued, thoughtful leadership and are heartened by his goal to reopen Nevada at 100% capacity by June 1. We strongly encourage all Caesars Entertainment Team Members to get vaccinated and are continuing to provide free and convenient COVD-19 vaccines.”

Not everyone saw the message as a sincere response to the state's coronavirus situation.

Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus, R-Wellington, criticized Sisolak’s announcement, calling it a political calculation.

“Obviously, this is not based on the supposed science that we’ve been using for the past year and instead on reelection efforts,” she said.

The statewide mask mandate will remain in effect for now, and Sisolak stated it’s too early to tell when that may be removed.

“I wish I could give all Nevadans an exact timeline as to when we can tuck away our masks, but public health officials made it clear that in order to reach our goal of reopening on June 1, we must make sure Nevadans stay masked,” Sisolak said. “It would be irresponsible for me as your governor to ignore that advice. Additionally, it’s a common-sense bargain. If we all continue to wear masks, it will help ensure we can reopen our state by June 1.”

Sun reporter Bryan Horwath contributed to this report.