Monday, April 20, 2020 / by Ken Couture
Wynn Resorts Ltd.’s CEO hopes to see the Strip “slowly begin” to reopen in the next month, according to an updated health and sanitation plan published Sunday morning.
Once that happens, Wynn’s Las Vegas resorts will look much different under new guidelines, with the use of thermal cameras to steer away people with high temperatures, altered layouts to ensure social distancing and masks worn by all employees.
“Nevada will likely be one of the hardest-hit states in the nation and suffer very high unemployment,” CEO Matt Maddox said in the statement. “It is imperative to flatten this curve so we can re-emerge in a safe, sustainable way.”
Though the company is losing millions of dollars every day because of nationwide casino closures, Maddox commended Gov. Steve Sisolak for ordering that casinos shut down last month.
Wynn closed its Las Vegas casinos on March 17 and plans to pay all full- and part-time employees for 60 days, through May 15, including an estimate for tips. The company is losing about $3 million a day — $180 million over two months — because of the shutdown.
“I believe (Sisolak’s) decision saved lives as we were facing potential exponential growth in COVID-19 exposure, given that Las Vegas caters to millions of people from all over the world,” Maddox said in the statement.
He added that the closures are challenging, but they’re “in the best interest of our employees and community.”
The company laid out steps it plans to take to ensure its guests and employees remain safe during the reopening process.
Thermal cameras will be used at entrances, and the property will test those with a temperature over 100 degrees again in a private area, turning away those who still show high temperatures.
Guests will be advised to stand at least 6 feet apart, and the company will spread out restaurant tables and slot machines and change other physical layouts to ensure people can maintain a safe distance. The plans also include placing hand sanitizer dispensers at key entrances and contact areas and putting up health and hygiene reminders throughout the property.
Every employee entering the resort will be given a mask and be required to wear it while on the property. Visitors will be screened and asked to use hand sanitizer and to wear a mask, provided by Wynn Resorts.
The statement also said Wynn Resorts employees have been given “clear instructions on how to respond swiftly and report all presumed cases of COVID-19 on property to the Southern Nevada Health District” and are instructed to stay home if they don’t feel well. Employees have been told to contact a manager if they notice themselves, a guest or another employee displaying symptoms of the new coronavirus.
The new health and safety guidelines rely “on the best available science on sanitization methods in consultation with professional infectious disease experts,” Maddox said. The company plans to refine the plan as it continues to get updates from experts.
Steps to ‘recover and reopen’
Maddox also laid out steps he believes need to be taken before Las Vegas businesses can “recover and reopen”:
¦ The governor’s appointed task force needs to focus on COVID-19 testing capabilities and reopening the economy safely.
¦ Parts of the local economy should reopen in early May, with reduced capacity, physical distancing, temperature checks and no large gatherings. Everyone in public should be wearing a mask at this time to “allow our economy to reopen faster.”
¦ The state should follow data tracking benchmarks from modeling experts. They include numbers on increases in COVID-19 testing velocity; making sure hospitalizations and deaths per million in Nevada does not pass the national average; and making sure hospital critical care beds are reserved based on a ratio of current COVID-19 patients “in the event of a spike.” Maddox added that the data should be public, web-based and accessible to all.
¦ The Las Vegas Strip should start to reopen “with extensive safety measures” in mid- to late May if the state is in line with benchmarks.
¦ The state will have to monitor the data daily and “marginally pull back or move forward” if needed.
“I understand that if we incrementally reopen, we might have to pull back if a spike in cases occurs that jeopardizes our health care system capacity,” Maddox said. “However, the only way to cross this river is one stone at a time, and we need to put our feet in the water before it is too late.”
Maddox also expects many Nevada hospitals will issue “significant layoffs as they bleed money during this time.” He suggested they start elective surgeries while keeping capacity for COVID-19 patients.
“Otherwise our health care system that is meant to save lives will be badly damaged,” he said.
While Maddox believes the main obstacle for Nevada during this crisis is ensuring widespread testing, he expects that will happen “over the coming weeks,” with state, medical community, task force and resort industry leaders “all focused on ways to vastly enhance testing.”
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