Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak Allows Mask-Free Conventions for Fully Vaccinated Attendees

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Governor Steve Sisolak (D) has given a directive exempting Nevada conventions from COVID-19 mask mandates if all attendees are fully vaccinated. In Las Vegas, huge special events often happen in Convention Center or Local casinos.

Following the governor’s directive, convention organizers may choose between requiring indoor facial coverings for all guests, regardless of vaccination status, or ensuring that all visitors are vaccinated. In any case, fully-vaccinated attendees can shed their masks.

Fully vaccinated individuals are those who have stayed for two weeks since their second Moderna or Pfizer dose or two weeks since a single Johnson & Johnson dose.

The governor’s order applies to Nevada counties, including Clark County, with massive or high COVID-19 community transmission rates. Las Vegas is in Clark County. Under the county’s jurisdiction, most of the great casinos on the Las Vegas Strip are outside city limits.

The region’s surging COVID-19 infections and low vaccination rate occasioned Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Chicago health officials to caution against touring Las Vegas.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Nevada Resort Association (NRA) president and CEO, Virginia Valentine, said the NRA congratulates event organizers for having flexibility in bringing guests. The NRA is the lobbying arm of the casino industry.

Valentine said, “Large gatherings, whether they be trade shows and conventions or special events, are critical to Southern Nevada’s economy and the tens of thousands of jobs that depend on this business.”

At least two upcoming events, the National Association of Broadcasters’ convention and the CES shows, require vaccination proof to enter.

No Medical, Religious Exemptions

Following the governor’s directive, a convention or event must have 4,000 or more attendees to meet the mask-free provision.

The event organizers will have to create a system to verify whether an attendee is vaccinated or if an individual is too young to have received a vaccine. However, those ineligible for a vaccine due to their age must wear a mask for the entire convention.

Individuals who are partially vaccinated may attend but must wear facial covering at all functions.

The directive states that medical and religious exemptions cannot be allowed.

Conventions Vital to Las Vegas

Conventions, which attract many visitors to Las Vegas, are perceived as crucial in filling up hotel rooms on the resort aisle. According to the Wall Street Journal, since 1999, Las Vegas resorts have generated more money from hotel facilities and conventions than sports betting.

Conventions are perceived as vital, especially during the slower middle of the week. Low midweek demand in the initial stages of the pandemic forced some casino companies to close their hotel towers temporarily.

Since March 2020, when the COVID-19 cases started to surge, conventions have been slow to resume in Las Vegas, adding to the region’s economic woes.

Last year, more than 34 qualified employees at one time were without work in the Las Vegas Valley, the worst rate in the nation, according to the Wall Street Journal. Las Vegas continues to top the nation’s large cities in unemployment, although currently, the rate is in the single digits. 

Nevada has continuously adopted stiff measures amid the summer’s variant-fueled increase. Governor Sisolak has ordered regular weekly testing for those among state’s more than 27,000 public workers who don’t get vaccinated. His proposal to require vaccines at public universities and colleges is scheduled to go before the health state board on Friday.

State health officials announced that only below 60% of individuals ages 12 and above have received at least one vaccine shot, while 49.4 are fully vaccinated. In Las Vegas, the figures are 60.6% and 48.5%, respectively.