Las Vegas Culinary Union Wants All Guests to Wear Masks, Not Just at Poker Tables

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The Culinary Workers Union Local 226, which represents culinary service workers in Las Vegas, says that all casino guests should be required to wear masks in public, a much stricter policy than what is currently in place in the city.

Culinary Union Las Vegas masks
Las Vegas’ Culinary Union wants casino guests to wear masks in all public casino areas, just as they do at most poker tables. (Image: Ethan Miller/Getty)

That proposal came during a Monday video conference in which union leaders and members discussed the health and safety policies implemented by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Culinary Union Cites Worker Concerns Over Health

Those protocols require players and spectators to wear masks at most table games, including at poker tables. However, they do not require face coverings elsewhere.

That concerns the Culinary Union, which says that while the current regulations are great for protecting dealers, they do little for the health of waitresses, bartenders, and others who come in contact with guests at casinos.

Food server Yolanda Scott estimates that about 10% of guests are wearing face masks in public areas of Treasure Island where she works.

“That concerns me because I don’t feel safe,” Scott said, via the Las Vegas Sun. “I do not want to bring the COVID-19 back to my family, my children. My partner has a bad kidney and a bad heart, and we have to be extra cautious.”

According to the Culinary Union, 17 union workers and family members have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The union is also asking casinos and resorts to check the temperatures of all visitors, require a daily deep cleaning of each guest room, regularly test employees, provide personal protective equipment for workers, and to better enforce social distancing protocols.

“We know you have a responsibility with the economy. We want the economy to do better,” Culinary Union secretary-treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline said during Monday’s video conference. “The workers, they want to work, but they want to work safe. They don’t want to work and risk their life, and risk getting sick.”

Arguello-Kline said that the union could take legal action if the NGCB doesn’t adopt stronger health and safety protocols.

Poker Rooms Adapting to COVID-19 Era

The requests come at a time when Las Vegas casinos and poker rooms are looking to implement creative solutions that might allow customers to play without masks. The Bellagio installed Plexiglass dividers at its poker tables, allowing for six-handed play with face coverings optional, rather than required. Other poker rooms are considering similar innovations to increase capacity and potentially cater to players who don’t want to wear masks.

Nevada has seen a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases. The New York Times reports a total of 13,575 cases and 490 deaths from the disease as of Tuesday, numbers that are low compared to many other states on both an absolute and per capita basis. However, the number of new cases in Nevada has increased steadily in recent days.

That rise is mild compared to the spikes in states like Florida, where an employee at Bestbet Jacksonville tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. The facility and its poker room remain open despite the positive test.

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