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Two weeks after Nevada casinos were permitted to reopen, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has issued stricter guidelines for health and safety. The attention grabber: all casino patrons are now required to wear face masks at table and card games if there is no protective barrier installed between the players and the dealer. Any person within six feet of the games must also wear a mask. Face coverings are not required for people playing slots or video poker.

To facilitate the use of face masks, casinos are now mandated to provide them to customers. This can be done either by making them available at casino entrances, or by displaying signage throughout the property to inform guests that such protection is available upon request.

Casinos must also now train employees on the proper use and disposal of personal protective equipment (PPE) in instances when PPE is required by federal, state, or local authorities.

Guests had quickly become lax

NGCB chairwoman Sandra Morgan told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Wednesday, the day the new guidance was issued, that in the first week following the June 4 reopening of Nevada casinos, the Control Board wanted to let casinos make their own decisions on health and safety within state requirements, but “in the second week, it became abundantly clear based on our agents’ observations that patrons’ usage of masks was significantly declining.”

She said that the Control Board was particularly concerned about table game dealers, who have to stand in front of several players for long stretches. Most employees can walk around and do more to distance themselves from others, but table game dealers do not have that luxury.

“We were at least able to agree that face coverings (were needed) at table games, if there’s not going to be Plexiglas or any other kind of barrier,” Morgan added. “The lack of individual patron responsibility is disappointing to say the least, so we have to do at least what we can to ensure that the gaming employees have some protection as well.”

State’s COVID-19 numbers trending badly

On Monday, virtually previewing what was about to come, Morgan told the Review-Journal that the Control Board would take action if Nevada’ COVID-19 data started looking worse.

“I would consider additional measures to ensure our health care system is not overburdened,” she said.

Sure enough, Nevada’s seven-day average of new cases has been on a sharp incline since casinos reopened. Just this week, the state has had its two biggest days in terms of most new confirmed cases of COVID-19. Since June 4, there have been eight days with more than 200 confirmed new cases. There were only six such days before June 4.

As of Friday afternoon, Nevada has had 12,485 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in 478 deaths.

“Unfortunately, as more businesses are opening and people are beginning to resume their normal activities, it is easy to forget that we are still responding to a pandemic and precautions need to be taken,” said Fermin Leguen, the top COVID-19 health care adviser in southern Nevada.

Leguen applauded businesses that not only met the state’s requirements for reopening, but have taken it upon themselves to go beyond in order to protect their employees and customers.

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