LAS VEGAS — A major hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip said Thursday it was making plans to reopen in three weeks and has started accepting reservations for arrivals beginning May 15 — if the governor lifts his closure order involving the coronavirus outbreak.
Treasure Island’s announcement came as a record wave of Nevada residents filed new claims for jobless benefits for a fifth straight week, bringing to more than 343,000 the total since casinos and other businesses were closed in mid-March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The resort with nearly 3,000 rooms posted a notice on its website announcing plans to reopen all gambling and hotel operations after May 14 “subject to change.”
Reservations will be accepted for May 15 and beyond “in order to best prepare on our side should that be a safe reopen date,” Treasure Island said in an email to The Associated Press. “However, this has always been subject to change depending on the final decision from Gov. (Steve) Sisolak and we are adhering to his recommendation.”
Sisolak and state experts previously said Nevada would take a gradual approach to easing business closures and stay-at-home rules, with no expected date for how soon that might occur. His spokeswoman reiterated Thursday that the governor “cannot give a firm date of when reopening may happen, but the date may be on the horizon.”
“Throughout the pandemic, the governor has worked closely with casino industry leaders about closure and reopening plans,“ spokeswoman Meghin Delaney said in an email. “Any reopening plan will ultimately go through the (state) Gaming Control Board,”
The board issued a six-page policy memorandum Wednesday outlining procedures for reopening casinos. It requires submission of a plan to the board at least seven days before reopening “or as soon as reasonably possible thereafter.”
Treasure Island officials said they’re working with the board on a plan as well as internal health and safety plan for guests and employees.
Nevada has had fewer cases and deaths than statistical models initially predicted, and they appear to be reaching a plateau. The number of people hospitalized with the disease has started to fall, state officials said Tuesday.
But the state still needs to see at least a two-week trend of drops in the number of hospitalizations and people testing positive for the disease before it can start to ease some restrictions, Sisolak said.
“Flattening the curve is only beneficial if we keep the curve flat. The virus isn’t gone,” he said Tuesday. He said schools would remain closed through the end of the current school year.
The nearly 41,000 new unemployment applications reported Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor showed about 24% of the 1.43 million people employed in Nevada in February had filed for benefits since the week ending March 21. Nevada’s jobless figure in February was an all-time low 3.6%.
State employment spokeswoman Rosa Mendez declined immediate comment about the data.
Unemployment filings each week have far exceeded the previous high of almost 9,000 claims in early January 2009. Nevada unemployment administrators and Sisolak have acknowledged severe backlogs and exceptionally long waits for people filing claims.
State health officials report at least 189 people have died of the COVID-19 respiratory illness in Nevada. More than 4,200 have tested positive.
Most people with COVID-19 experience symptoms such as fever and cough for up to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems can face severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.