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Wynn CEO: Coronavirus lockdown in Las Vegas should be partially lifted in May

Daniella Genovese
·3 mins read

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The head of Wynn Resorts is calling on Nevada's governor to begin to reopen parts of the state's economy in early May, roughly two months after the state's businesses came to a grinding halt in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In a detailed report titled “Wynn Las Vegas Health & Sanitation Program", the company's CEO Matt Maddox says the state can begin to safely reopen businesses, including the Las Vegas Strip, with extensive safety precautions in place.

The report comes just days after President Trump gave governors a road map for recovering from the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic, laying out “a phased and deliberate approach” to restoring normal activity in places that have strong testing and are seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases.

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"Begin with reduced occupancy, physical distancing measures in place, temperature checks and no large gatherings," Maddox wrote in the report, adding, "We all need to wear a mask. Wearing a mask is uncomfortable; however, it will allow our economy to reopen faster."

In the 23-page report, Maddox also laid out Wynn's guidelines on how to safely "reopen" and "recover" Las Vegas while cautioning that its procedures are "not applicable" to all resorts in the industry. These guidelines include making sure resort doors are propped open or manually operated by an employee, no more than four guests allowed in an elevator at a time and that each guest gets proper sanitizing equipment and face masks.

At the beginning of March, Wynn Resorts, which operates the Wynn and Encore resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, shuttered operations for the wellbeing of its employees and community. Days later, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a sweeping statewide order aimed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, impacting thousands of businesses in the tourism mecca of Las Vegas.

However, casinos and other businesses are paying the price. Wynn Resorts has guaranteed pay to tens of thousands of workers through May 15, which costs the company approximately $3 million per day or $180 million for two months, Maddox said.

While Maddox commends the governor "for making the difficult decision and taking early action in the fight against COVID-19," he says the state's economy is now in a "free fall."

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"Nevada will likely be one of the hardest-hit states in the nation and suffer very high unemployment," Maddox wrote. "It is imperative to flatten this curve so we can re-emerge in a safe, sustainable way."

Maddox's plans call for the governor's task force to focus on COVID-19 testing capabilities and safely reopening the economy. Additionally, if parts of the economy are to open in May, there should be "reduced occupancy, physical distancing measures in place, temperature checks and no large gatherings."

Maddox also notes that experts should carefully watch data surrounding testing, hospitalizations and virus-related deaths while being fully transparent to the public.

However, some industry experts say the recovery of Las Vegas will be vaccine-dependant.

"Until there is a vaccine that people feel comfortable with that works and is easily accessible, Las Vegas is going to be a tougher sell," Jason Ader, CEO of SpringOwl Asset Management and gambling industry expert, told FOX Business.

However, to combat the low demand, resorts will start to cut prices later this summer which may incentivize some to book a flight, Ader noted.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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