“This is an incredible, beautiful facility,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday afternoon as he stood in the massive Mandalay Bay Convention Center, the site of a vaccination drive for hotel employees and their families. “But I would rather see it filled with conventioneers and customers than vaccines.”
Sisolak toured the employee vaccination facility and encouraged all hospitality industry workers to get their shots as the state ratchets up its capacity levels at local businesses to 80 percent on Saturday and 100 percent on June 1. .
The governor said the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts have focused on “accessibility and equity” and ensuring Nevada’s largest workforce was prioritized, adding hospitality industry workers will “get the train back on the tracks and moving forward,”
“Nobody does it better and healthier than we do here in Las Vegas,” Sisolak said.
But Sisolak acknowledged Nevada’s tourism industry does not exist in a vacuum. Unvaccinated, even COVID-infected visitors, will inevitably descend as capacity limits increase.
“This virus does not recognize borders,” he said.
Siisolak said he’s in regular contact with other governors who are encouraging their residents to get vaccinated.
“I’m confident that as we move forward to June 1st we’ll have a sufficient number of people. And I’m committed to making Las Vegas and Nevada the safest place to vacation and have a convention. And that’s only going to be done through needles in people’s arms.”
Sisolak declined to say when he’ll relax the state’s mask mandate.
“People ask me ‘when will Nevada be back?’ Or ‘when will Vegas be back?’ The comeback is here now. We are on our way back. Workers are coming back on the job and they are going home with paychecks,” he said. “If you are a hospitality worker who hasn’t been vaccinated, go to NVCOVIDFighter.org.”
Nevada Resort Association president Virginia Valentine said most resorts offer free vaccinations on site.
“Resorts provide flexibility for employees to get their shot and are using creative ways to promote and reward vaccinations,” Valentine said.
At least one company, Wynn Resorts, is requiring employees who do not get vaccinated to provide weekly proof of a negative COVID-19 test, obtained on their own time. One employee told KTNV-TV she felt “coerced.”
Gaming Control Board Chairman Brin Gibson said he was unaware of the Wynn Resorts policy.
“I don’t know about that program. I’d have to look at it,” he said. “I don’t want coercion. It’s important people make a choice.”
Gibson said Equal Employment Opportunity Commission policies spell out what an employer can and can’t require of workers.
John McManus, executive vice president and general counsel for MGM Resorts International, says the company will be “making some announcements” about vaccination incentives but has no plans to follow the lead of Wynn Resorts and require proof of negative tests from unvaccinated employees.
“It won’t be mandated,” he said.
Some 39 percent of Nevada residents have received at least one shot and about one-quarter are fully vaccinated, according to state health officials. Just under 50 percent of Nevada’s hospitality workforce has been vaccinated.
“Have no doubt,” Valentine said. ”We are focused on reaching 60 percent so we can open to 100 percent. For our visitors there is no greater sign of our commitment to safety than a vaccinated workforce.”