Nearly two months after Nevada shut down nonessential businesses including casinos to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the state has come out with new regulations that allow restaurants inside a gaming property to reopen for dine-in service — with some restrictions in place.
On Thursday night, the Nevada Gaming Control Board issued the new rules for casinos that piggyback on Gov. Steve Sisolak’s May 9 guidelines, which allowed dine-in restaurants to open statewide.
Casino operators must let the board know if there is a separate entrance to the restaurant apart from that take patrons through the gaming floor. Restaurants without an exterior entrance will have to show the board how customers will enter without walking on the casino floor, since casinos remain closed.
The same goes for bathrooms that are not inside a restaurant. Diners cannot use a restroom outside the restaurant if they have to walk on the casino floor.
In large cities such as Las Vegas, casino operators have to come up with ways to prevent customers from congregating outside the restaurant while they wait for a table.
Sisolak acknowledges that opening restaurants inside casinos is meant for rural communities that don’t have a lot of dining options. It’s not meant to be a test for bigger casinos in large cities such as Las Vegas.
Restaurants that open for dine-in service inside a casino will also need to follow state rules for reopening. Sisolak’s May 9 guidelines state that restaurants can only allow 50 percent seating capacity with no seating in the bar area. Sisolak encourages reservations to keep the number of people in a restaurant down, and tables must be spaced six feet apart. He said staff will need to wear masks, and he encourages customers to do the same. Pubs, wineries, bars, and breweries that serve food are allowed to reopen as long as they serve food and keep the bar area closed. Bars, nightclubs, pools, and casinos remain closed.
The Southern Nevada Health District released a list of guidelines for restaurants that choose to reopen for dine-in service that includes similar recommendations.
Sisolak initially closed all nonessential businesses — including dine-in restaurants, bars, and casinos — on March 17 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He says casinos can reopen in phase three or four of his plan as long as the state continues to see a downward trajectory in the percentage of COVID-19 cases, and a decrease in the trend of COVID-19 hospitalizations over a 14-day period. Nevada is in phase one of reopening for business.