CARSON CITY – Nevada’s gaming industry, shuttered since mid-March, could reopen on June 4, and the next phase of relaxed restrictions in the state’s rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic could come even sooner, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Friday.
The governor plans a Tuesday news conference to give details and potentially announce a date for moving to the second phase of reopenings — if data through the holiday weekend on infection rates, hospital usage and other metrics continue to “reflect positive or consistent trends,” according to a statement released by his office Friday afternoon.
The state Gaming Control Board on Tuesday will convene a workshop where state and local health and safety officers will give an update regarding COVID-19 response measures at resort hotels. The board may then take up “any action necessary with regard to reopening plans,” according to the statement. Gaming establishments are required to submit reopening plans for approval seven days before reopening.
The news gives frayed Nevadans potentially something to look forward to over a long, socially distanced Memorial Day weekend. Saturday marks two weeks since Phase 1 of the state’s reopening process began.
The governor began issuing directives on social distancing and business closures in mid-March, when COVID-19 infections in the state numbered less than 70. By the end of March, they numbered nearly 1,300 with 37 deaths, and by April 30, more than 5,200 cases had been reported with 268 deaths. As of Friday, the official state count was 7,401 cases and 387 deaths.
Broadly, the criteria for relaxing restrictions, based on federal guidance, has been increased testing capacity, declining rates of infection, and sustainable hospital capacity. Based on positive trends in those three categories, Sisolak eased restrictions and announced the state’s Phase 1 reopening starting May 9.
“If Nevada’s COVID-19 data continues to reflect positive or consistent trends through the Memorial Day Weekend, the governor will announce a Phase 2 reopening date at the Tuesday press conference, along with business reopening and statewide continuing operation guidelines,” the governor’s statement read.
Speaking in a teleconference Friday hosted by the Metro Chamber of Commerce, Sisolak told more than 1,000 participants on the call that the state’s top priorities were saving lives, ensuring health care system capacity, and making potential tourists and other visitors feel at ease about returning.
“It’s important that when visitors come here, when they start coming back to Las Vegas, to Nevada, they know that this is the safest place in the world to come on vacation,” Sisolak said. “And to make sure that there is a tracing effort in place, there’s testing in place, that they feel that they’ll be able to come here, enjoy themselves and not take the virus back home.”