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Nevada orders all casinos, bars, restaurants closed as US coronavirus cases surge

A woman uses a hand sanitizer station inside McCarran International Airport on March 10, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nev. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has ordered the statewide shutdown of all casino and gambling operations as of midnight, another startling indication of the economic and cultural impact the coronavirus is exacting on American life.

Gambling ventures will be shuttered for 30 days, said Sisolak, who also ordered that other nonessential businesses, including cars and restaurants, will be forced to close as of noon Wednesday. Businesses such as hospitals, gas stations and grocery stores will remain open. Restaurants and bars that serve food will have to close or transition to delivery and takeout only.

“Today additional steps must be taken to slow the spread of the virus in our state,” the governor said.

Showing flashes of anger at times, Sisolak spoke of the need to protect medical professionals and first responders to the coronavirus pandemic. “You’re being told not to go out,” he said, and then repeated: “You’re being told not to go out. You owe it to them to listen to that directive.

“I don’t know if I can make this any clearer, the people that are looking for a loophole here,” he said before repeating that every casino and gambling machine in the state must be turned off by midnight.

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Tuesday’s announcement — affecting a $6.6 billion gambling business in Las Vegas alone — comes as the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in Clark County jumped to 42, according to the Southern Nevada Health District. There has been one confirmed death in the state.

Uber driver Samuel Parlan, 59, was surprised by news of the pending shutdown. “I was expecting a few casinos to be open and was hoping to make some money from that,” he said, and speculated whether he would need to find a job delivering packages for Amazon. “If all the casinos are shutting down, the employees will be really affected. It’ll be like 2008 when people lost their houses.”

Many in Las Vegas suspected this was coming as COVID-19 cases increased across the nation. On Sunday, MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts announced that they would be suspending operations starting Tuesday at least through March. Wynn Resorts said that it intends to pay all full-time Wynn and Encore employees during the closure.

Caesars Entertainment said that all reservations between March 15 and April 16 would be automatically canceled and refunded.

Nevada joins an ever-growing list of states that have ordered the closure or partial closure of what are deemed nonessential services — including California, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and Washington.

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© 2020 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.