Casino operator Caesars Entertainment has become the first gaming firm in the US to impose a compulsory mask measure for both employees and visitors following a rise in the country’s COVID-19 cases.
On Wednesday 24, Caesars announced a new “universal mask policy” that took effect at noon at all Caesars venues currently open in Inidiana, Louisiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri and Nevada, as well as tribal casinos in California, Arizona and North Carolina, and will apply to gambling venues in other states as they resume operations.
“Everyone indoors,” which includes “employees, vendors, contractors, guests and passersby,” is now required to wear masks at all times, except when drinking or eating. Caesars Chief Executive, Tony Rodio, said the scientific evidence was clear on widespread mask use limiting the spread of the virus and anyone who refuses to mask up “will be directed to leave the property.”
In the past, Caesars required mask use only by employees and after last week’s revised regulations issued by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, table game gamblers who were not separated from their dealer by a physical barrier.
Caesars was on the spotlight earlier this week when word spread that employees at five of its venues were giving out $20 bills to members of its Caesars Rewards program who agreed to wear masks while on the casino floor. The firm reportedly doled out $7,500 before Wednesday’s a-must mas policy was imposed.
Caesars was probably prompted to make masks compulsory before regulators made the decision for them. Nevada is one of the many states setting new records for daily coronavirus infections this week, including 462 new cases on Wednesday.
The spike is partly due to increased testing but Nevada’s test positivity rate has increased every day for the last week.
The rate currently is 5.7% after falling below 2% when the month started, precisely around the time that gambling operators were allowed to reopen.
The Culinary Union, which represents 60,000 casino employees in Vegas and Reno, has been pushing for a mandatory mask rule after concluding that just 10-20% of Nevada casino visitors were bothering to wear masks.
Governor Steve Sisolak said last Friday that he was considering rolling out “enhanced face covering policies” but has yet to publicly fulfil his words. Sisolak held a press conference on Wednesday and addressed the recent rise in infections.