Raiders win, Sisolak’s mask mandate gets trounced

Governor offers large venue operators option for maskless events

By: - August 16, 2021 8:11 pm

“I want to be clear, this is not a requirement to show proof of vaccination to attend large events,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said. (Photo: Ronda Churchill)

Raider Nation turned out for its first home game, a preseason victory, with fans largely unmasked, according to social media photos posted by fans.  

“I’m a realist and I understand that it’s difficult in a venue of 20 to 65 thousand people to keep them masked up,” Sisolak said at a news conference in Las Vegas on Monday.  “I was aware of the pictures that folks mentioned, that I saw,” he said, adding that he “talked to the operators at those venues and we exchanged ideas and opinions,” 

Following Sisolak’s announcement, the Raiders announced the team would require attendees at home games to be vaccinated, the first NFL team to do so.

“Health and safety has always been our number one priority,” said Raiders owner Mark Davis. “After consultation with Governor Sisolak and other community leaders, this policy ensures that we will be able to operate at full capacity without masks for fully vaccinated fans for the entire season.”

Earlier this month, Sisolak engaged his Medical Advisory Team to come up with ideas for making large events safer. 

The first option is to keep the current mask mandate in place.

The second option would allow venues of 4,000 seats or more to allow people to remove their masks if the event admits only fully vaccinated people.

Partially vaccinated individuals would be allowed to attend, but would be required to wear a mask. Children under 12 would also be required to wear a mask.  

“The operator must have a method of verifying vaccination status that is effective,” Sisolak said. “Staff must be sufficient in number and adequately trained.”

Gov, Steve Sisolak said he wants “to provide the private sector with more options.” (Photo: Dana Gentry)

“I want to be clear, this is not a requirement to show proof of vaccination to attend large events,” he said.  Instead, it’s an opportunity to get concert goers and sports fans vaccinated with the promise of going maskless at future events.  

“If someone fails to provide proof of COVID vaccination they must not be admitted” at events where operators mandate vaccination, Sisolak said, adding that operators can choose to have “stand-up vaccine sites” where the unvaccinated can receive their first shot and admittance to the event, as long as they wear a mask. 

“My goal with today’s new policy choice is to provide the private sector with more options that come with the reward for the public to take off their masks, if and only if they’re fully vaccinated,” the governor said.   

Sisolak said the state is “working to expand this option to every venue and business in the state.”  

“This would eliminate that enforcement problem,” Sisolak said. 

It’s unknown how a venue that chooses to admit partially vaccinated individuals would identify them, Sisolak said, adding it could be “through a wristband or some other technology.” 

“And I think it’s going to encourage a lot of people to get their vaccine,” he said. “They’re going to say ‘I want to take my mask off and go to the Raiders’ game.’” 

Sisolak praised MGM Resorts International’s announcement that it’s mandating vaccines for new and salaried employees.  

“I think it’s absolutely terrific and I encourage any employer to look at this option,” he said. . 

“What I’d like to see is to have absolutely everybody get vaccinated and everybody get rid of these masks, and I’d be the first one leading the parade to encourage that.” 

Sisolak says he doesn’t expect the vaccination requirement option to impede ticket sales at venues that choose it.  

“They may realize they can sell more tickets if people know that going there, everybody in that stadium is vaccinated and you can take your mask off,” he said.    

Anyone presenting a counterfeit vaccination card will be prosecuted, he said.  

Sisolak said Nevada, the first state to reinstate an indoor mask mandate, is reaping the rewards.

“We are now seeing a slowing of COVID 19 growth,” he said, noting Nevada had the second slowest rate of states in the nation at 15 percent, compared with a national average of 118 percent. 

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.