Workers in Las Vegas and other parts of Clark County, Nevada, will have to wear masks indoors again, but customers will not do so under the new regulations.
The Clark County Commission voted in an emergency meeting on Tuesday to require all employees working indoors and with colleagues or around the public to cover their faces. The increase in new coronavirus cases is due to a more spreadable variant and slower vaccination rates.
The new rules do not relate to customers, and it is not a blanket return to masking, like the one of late imposed in the Los Angeles area. “We have already been through a shutdown and a start-up, and we cannot afford to have major conventions decide to go elsewhere,” Commissioner Jim Gibson said.
Tourist-dependent Las Vegas underwent Covid restrictions last year that closed casinos, dine-in restaurants, bars and other businesses. Casinos were closed in total for more than two months. Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising across Nevada and the rest of the U.S., fueled by the more transmissible delta variant.
Dr. Cort Lohff, medical director of the Southern Nevada Health District, said that since the beginning of June, the number of Covid-19 cases in Clark County has nearly tripled, and the positive rate has tripled. He said the growth was driven by delta variants and the platform of vaccination rates.
The regional health district suggested that all individuals, both those fully vaccinated and those unvaccinated, wear masks in crowded indoor public places.
Chris Scarpulla, who owns two The Great American Pub locations, told NBC affiliate KSNV of Las Vegas that the new rules, while a burden, are better than closing. “I don’t think the employees are very happy with it, but I think they’re happy enough to follow the mandate and understand that this keeps them employed,” he told the station. “This keeps us open.”
But at Tuesday’s commission meeting, critics spoke out. “You’re telling us what to do, wear a mask — that’s my decision, not yours,” Jim Blockey told the board.