Casinos, ‘nonessential’ businesses close across Nevada for 30 days

NEVADA Governor Steve Sisolak has announced the closure of ‘nonessential’ businesses, including casinos, throughout the state for at least 30 days to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), beginning on Wednesday, March 18.

Businesses ordered for closure include all casinos and gaming machines, clubs and bars, hair and nail salons, gyms and shopping malls. 

“Today, it is clear additional steps must be taken, immediately, in order to slow the spread of this deadly virus in our state,” Sisolak said in his remarks on Tuesday. 

The announcement comes as 84 cases have been confirmed in Nevada, including 69 cases and one confirmed death in the southern part of the state, according to the Southern Nevada Health District.

Essential services, such as fire and police departments and health care providers, will remain open, as will businesses like grocery and convenience stores, pharmacies, and banking institutions. 

Restaurants, including pubs and bars that serve food, across the state will move to drive-thru, takeout or delivery only.  

Sisolak reminded the public to maintain six feet of social distancing between people, that all gatherings should be postponed or canceled, and that faith leaders should find alternatives to deliver services without physically congregating. 

“I know this directive will cause many of our friends and neighbors to distress. But I ask you – what are you willing to do to save your own life and the lives of those you love? We absolutely must take this step for every Nevadan’s health and safety. Please – take this seriously. Lives are at stake, and with each passing day, this pandemic is growing. Please – Stay Home for Nevada,” Sisolak said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) previously issued guidance that events and gatherings with more than 50 people in the U.S. should be canceled or postponed for the next eight weeks. 

Starting last Monday, the closure of all K-12 public, private and charter schools until at least April 6 took effect, following Sisolak’s announcement over the weekend. As students will be learning online, Charter Communications is offering free access to Spectrum Broadband and Wi-Fi. 

At least 10 states, including California and New York, have enacted similar mandates, as the pandemic continues to spread across the U.S., with over 6,400 cases as of Tuesday. 

Before the Nevada governor’s announcement, Cosmopolitan, Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International — which operates 13 properties in Las Vegas including the MGM Grand, Bellagio and Mandalay Bay — said on Monday that they would shutter their property doors beginning Tuesday. 

Full-time employees furloughed or laid off by MGM will receive two weeks of pay from their last day of work, while employees covered by the company’s health plan will continue to receive benefits until June 30, according to the Las Vegas-Review Journal. 

The Las Vegas Justice Court is suspending eviction proceedings for the next 30 days, while the Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation is encouraging those who have been laid out to file unemployment insurance claims online. 

The governor also asked essential businesses to consider hiring laid-off individuals. 

There are 162,936 Filipinos in Nevada — the largest Asian American group —  many of whom are employed by local hospitals and health care facilities, Clark County School District schools, hotels and casinos. 

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are considered one of the fastest-growing groups in the state, seeing a 167% population increase since 2000, according to APIA Vote. 

Sisolak on Wednesday released a statement, saying “it remains more important than ever to continue separating fact from fiction and showing support for all Nevadans, especially our significant Asian-American communities that have been unfairly stigmatized and harmed by misconceptions and misinformation about the virus.”

Since the outbreak, Asian Americans communities across the country have reported acts of hate and discrimination.

“COVID-19 originated in China, but it in no way targets Chinese American or other Asian American individuals at higher rates than other races or ethnicities. This is a virus that does not discriminate; it targets everyone,” the governor added.

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