LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Starting at midnight Thursday, many employees in Clark County will have to mask up once again.
County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to require masks for employees when indoors in public spaces at their place of work, regardless of vaccination status. They say their decision was a result of the rising COVID-19 cases and stagnating vaccine rates in Southern Nevada.
There is some frustration with the new requirement, but county leaders feel it is necessary.
“I’m a little disappointed that we’re going back to masks,” said JJ Wylie, co-owner of Grouchy John’s Coffee.
For months, employees at the coffee shop were given the choice to mask up or not — if they were vaccinated. But soon, that will no longer be the case.
“I’m a little disheartened that we’ve come this far, and it feels like we’re taking a little step back,” Wylie said.
Public comment at the commission meeting was heated. Before the decision was made, commissioners listened to people voicing their opinions; a large majority in attendance were against any extra mitigation measures.
“We want to see each other’s faces,” one woman said.
“Your political theatre must stop,” one man stressed.
Another woman added, “We need to leave it up to us to decide our health.”
Commissioners realize any mask requirement is not ideal.
“We don’t want to do this,” Jim Gibson, commissioner for District G, told 8 News Now.
But he says if things do not get better, he is worried about our medical capacity, and the possibility of conventions and shows canceling trips to Las Vegas.
“The risk we run is that we aren’t going to be able to have access to hospital care and/or we are not going to have an economy that thrives, and neither of which are acceptable,” Gibson said.
Employees at Jing Las Vegas, a restaurant in Downtown Summerlin, have never stopped wearing masks, and managers agree with the county’s decision.
“Actually, 70% of our employees got vaccinated, but we still mandated that they wear masks,” shared Roy Saunders, managing partner of Jing Las Vegas. “Things are going to be status quo for us here at Jing.”
Businesses are trying to look on the bright side.
“I’m glad that we don’t have to argue this point with our customers yet,” Wylie said. “I hope it doesn’t get that far.”
The new mask requirement will continue through Aug. 17, when Clark County commissioners revisit the issue.
Commissioners are also requiring major employers, such as casinos, malls and grocery stores, to submit a COVID mitigation plan by next Monday. Local businesses will also be asked to post new signage, recommending everyone wear a mask indoors, following the recent recommendation from the Southern Nevada Health District.