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Sisolak provides option for large venues to go maskless

Updated August 17, 2021 - 9:13 am

Large venues such as Allegiant Stadium and T-Mobile Arena can opt out of Nevada’s indoor mask mandate by requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Monday.

Under the governor’s new directive, venues with 4,000 seats or more that require fans to be at least partially vaccinated can drop the mask mandate for those who are fully vaccinated. Those who are partially vaccinated would still be required to wear a mask.

“It’s not a mandate, it’s not a requirement, it’s not rolling anything back,” Sisolak said at a late afternoon news conference at the Sawyer Building in downtown Las Vegas. “We’re trying to open up our economy more, and getting more people working.”

He described the option as a cutting-edge measure that would boost confidence in attending large events. Venues that enact such an option could administer vaccines outside of an event to allow formerly unvaccinated attendees to enter, he said.

“There’s no other venues in the country that are doing this,” he said. “I think it is going to get more people wanting to go to an event because they know that when they walk in that arena, or that stadium, everybody’s vaccinated.”

After Sisolak issued the new directive, the Raiders announced late Monday that fans will be required to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination before attending games at Allegiant Stadium this season.

As a result, attendees who are fully vaccinated will not be required to wear a mask. Those who are partially vaccinated will be allowed to attend but must wear masks, in accordance with the directive. Vaccinations also will be provided on site.

The policy will be in place for the first regular season home game, the Sept. 13 Monday Night Football matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. The Raiders marked the first team in the National Football League to announce a vaccine/no mask policy.

Delta variant concerns

The latest directive came as states and communities across the country are grappling with how to safely allow gatherings in the face of an ongoing surge of cases and hospitalizations fueled by the more infectious delta variant of the coronavirus.

Sisolak said the directive was not a direct response to footage from Allegiant Stadium that showed unmasked fans at a Raiders game and the recent Gold Cup soccer match.

”I’m a realist and can understand that it’s difficult in a venue of 20 or 65,000 people to keep people masked up,” he said.

A venue selecting this option would have to develop a way to determine the partially vaccinated from the fully vaccinated for enforcement purposes, he said. The Raiders directed fans to use the CLEAR app and Health Pass feature to present proof of vaccination.

Nevada’s indoor mask mandate is in effect in counties with high or substantial transmission of COVID-19, which includes Clark County.

Event operators seeking the exemption will be required to a submit a form to the State Department of Business and Industry and the local health authority.

A representative of T-Mobile Arena could not immediately be reached for comment late Monday.

Requirements in other cities

The governor’s move differs from COVID-19 tactics taken in Louisiana and New York, in which the mayors of those states’ largest cities took action.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a briefing Monday, said he intends to expand a requirement that patrons of indoor restaurants be required to have at least their first dose of a vaccination to be admitted, a rule that takes effect this week.

De Blasio said the vaccine mandate would be expanded to include sports stadiums, casinos, movie theaters and concert halls, as well as museums and other entertainment and cultural institutions.

In Louisiana, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell last week issued a directive requiring proof of vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test to enter businesses, restaurants, bars, gyms, the Superdome and other indoor locations.

On Saturday, representatives of Louisiana’s Republican Party voted to condemn Cantrell’s directive and on Monday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he has no plans to enact vaccine mandates across the state.

Louisiana is one of the South’s largest casino markets with more than 130 land-based, riverboat, tribal and casino venues statewide.

Cantrell’s directive in New Orleans would affect Harrah’s Casino New Orleans, owned and operated by Reno-based Caesars Entertainment Inc.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writers Mick Akers and Richard N. Velotta contributed to this report.

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