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Southern Nevada showing 66% compliance on new mask policy, agency says

Updated July 6, 2020 - 5:24 pm

A state agency says Southern Nevada businesses have had a 66 percent compliance rate for the use of facial coverings since Gov. Steve Sisolak issued an order for public mask use June 26.

A release from Nevada’s Division of Industrial Relations Occupation Safety and Health Administration issued Monday says 921 initial field observations also found 84 percent compliance in Northern Nevada.

In a statement Friday, Sisolak said a 49 percent compliance rate reported by OSHA earlier was “disappointing and unacceptable.” He has yet to react to Monday’s marginally better performance.

Monday’s OSHA release said its employees on Friday visited hotel-casino pools, a water park, bars, and gaming floors. The report found that bars and casino floors had an 80 percent compliance rate, resort pools showed 40 percent compliance and the water park visit showed noncompliance. In the bar and restaurant lounge visits, OSHA determined a 50 percent compliance rate during evening hours Thursday, and the Friday visits occurred during daytime hours.

In the most recent visits Friday, compliance was 82 percent in Northern Nevada and 75 percent in the South.

Casino operators have been bolstering compliance efforts.

In a message dated Thursday, Caesars Entertainment Corp. CEO Tony Rodio, expressing the seriousness of wearing facial covering on the job to slow the spread of the coronavirus, said, “the failure to wear your mask at work will be grounds for termination.”

A Las Vegas Sands Corp. spokesman said Monday employees who fail to comply can be disciplined, including termination.

“The wearing of face masks is a condition of employment at The Venetian resort,” said company spokesman Keith Salwoski. “Team members who fail to wear a face covering or mask to access the property, or a U.S. (Food and Drug Administration)-approved disposable surgical face mask provided by the company, will be subject to progressive discipline up to and including termination.”

At Wynn Resorts Ltd., company officials say there are no mask issues for employees.

“We’ve not had any employee refuse to wear a mask,” company spokesman Michael Weaver said Monday. “Our experience is that our employees want to keep each other and our guests safe, so non-compliance isn’t an issue.”

A spokesman for MGM Resorts International was not able to immediately provide comment.

Representatives for Station Casinos and Boyd Gaming Corp. did not respond to a request for comment.

Greg Mullen, vice president of CDC Consulting, which has had personnel attend casino reopenings nationwide, praised Caesars for the proactive approach on employee masks, but said another company outshines Caesars based on his visits over the weekend.

“We observed that Stations Casinos were by far the best in Las Vegas,” Mullen said in an email. “Not even close, as their attention to health and safety measures were terrific and very noticeable compared to the rest of the properties we visited. Caesars Entertainment is also stepping up as well with their enforcement of masks worn by employees with the possibility of termination if they are not wearing them along with their mandatory employee COVID-19 company-paid testing they recently announced.”

Meanwhile, MGM Resorts International has launched an internal campaign reminding workers to follow new health and safety protocols at all times, not just at work.

If OSHA finds noncompliance during an initial observation, the business is provided a written notice and request for voluntary compliance and a follow-up visit by Nevada OSHA officials will be conducted.

If a violation is found during the follow-up visit, a notice of citation and a fine would be assessed. A maximum penalty of $134,940 can be levied on an employer that willfully violates the provisions of the directive.

In the earlier field assessments, OSHA visited small establishments including grocery, home improvement and clothing stores, hair and nail salons and tattoo parlors.

The report from those visits stirred Sisolak’s ire.

“To those businesses operating in violation of the directive by not implementing safe social distancing and face-covering protocols, you’re not only jeopardizing people’s health but you’re also jeopardizing your fellow businesses, your industry and our overall economy,” Sisolak said in a statement.

The governor’s mandate to wear masks in public spaces went into effect June 26 with some exceptions, including children under 10, people with medical conditions and people eating and drinking in restaurants or bars.

A representative for Sisolak did not return requests for comment on Monday’s OSHA assessment.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian, Palazzo and the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Bailey Schulz contributed to this report.

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