The new coronavirus pandemic is changing the way Las Vegas looks and operates, with resorts announcing temporary closures, restaurants and bars laying off staff, and tourists wondering whether their favorite dining spot will be open.
MGM Resorts closes all of its properties on Tuesday, March 17, with casino floors going dark on Monday. The closings affect Aria, the Bellagio, Park MGM, MGM Grand, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Vdara, NoMad Hotel, Signature by MGM, Delano, New York-New York, Mirage, and the Park. The resorts will not accept reservations until May 1.
Famous chefs affected include Wolfgang Puck with Spago at the Bellagio, Lupo at Mandalay Bay, and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at MGM Grand; Joël Robuchon’s two restaurants at the MGM Grand; Roy Choi’s Best Friend at the Park MGM; NoMad Restaurant and NoMad Bar at the NoMad Hotel; Tom Colicchio with Heritage Steak at the Mirage and his steakhouse Craftsteak at the MGM Grand; Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken at Border Grill at Mandalay Bay; and Michael Mina’s four-restaurants at MGM resorts.
Wynn Las Vegas closes its resort and sister property Encore Las Vegas starting March 17 and plans to revisit the closure in 10 days, anticipating an April 1 reopening. Last week, the resort opted to close The Buffet at Wynn, as well as XS Nightclub and Encore Beach Club, to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Elio, the new Mexican restaurant opening at Encore Las Vegas from Enrique Olvera, Daniela Soto-Innes, and Santiago Perez of ATM Group, planned to open on March 21.
So far, Caesars Entertainment announced it has no plans to close its properties, including Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, Flamingo, The Cromwell, Bally’s, the Rio, Planet Hollywood Resort, and Paris Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that layoffs started on Saturday night at the resorts, and a limited number of restaurants and bars remain open.
Boyd Gaming — which operates 12 Las Vegas resorts such as the Orleans, Suncoast, and Main Street Station — has not announced plans to close, nor has Station Casinos, which operates the Palms, Green Valley Ranch, Red Rock Resort, Palace Station, and more. The Nevada Gaming Commission also indicated that it has no plans to shutter the state’s 440 licensed non-restricted casinos. The commission meets again on Thursday.
Chef José Andrés closed his restaurants in Washington, D.C., and New York City over the weekend, and on Monday, closed three of his Las Vegas restaurants — Jaleo, China Poblano, and é by José Andrés at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Bazaar Meat by José Andrés at the Sahara remains open.
Chef David Chang closed some of his Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C., restaurants, but Momofuku and Milk Bar at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Majordomo Meat & Fish at the Palazzo remain open.
Of course, the situation seems to change hourly, so call before traveling or visiting a resort.
The CDC suggested no public gatherings of more than 50 people over the next eight weeks, which will cause events to postpone, with guidelines stating: “Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.”
All of these resort closing have an impact on restaurant workers when it comes to employment and health benefits. The Culinary Union announced that, “Culinary Health Fund Board of Union and Management Trustees agreed to extend health care coverage during this crisis even if workers are laid off or have reduced hours.” That includes self-pay coverage and any testing or treatment for the new coronavirus.
Plenty of states, including Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington state, and Ohio announced that restaurants and bars will temporarily close while permitting takeout and delivery service, while New York City and Los Angeles mayors did the same.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak so far only closed all K-12 public schools in the state beginning Monday to impede the spread of COVID-19. Clark County School District students can pick up breakfast and lunch at one of 15 food distribution sites across Las Vegas from 8 to 11 a.m., according to the Nevada Independent.
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