WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
Business leaders in Las Vegas reacted immediately, saying the moves are necessary, and the tourism-based economy here is already ahead of the requirements.
“It’s essential for our economy to recover and to get jobs back,” said Cara Clarke, Vice President of the Vegas Chamber. “That’s how we at the Vegas Chamber have been looking at this from Day 1.”
The government’s expansive new rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans.
“A lot of businesses already are requiring their employees to either be fully vaccinated or receive weekly COVID testing,” Clarke said.
Clarke said Las Vegas is a city where businesses are predominantly small. Businesses here with more than 100 employees are considered large.
“Many of our large employers — those particularly those in the hospitality industry on the Strip — have been leading the charge in adopting some of these vaccination or testing policies already. And we’re seeing businesses like the Vegas Chamber for example, that have already put this policy in place,” Clarke said.
Biden is also signing an executive order requiring vaccination for all employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government. No testing opt-out is expected to be included for the executive branch requirement.
While the Vegas Chamber does not explicitly endorse the mandate, it does see the benefits of increased vaccination, such as helping to get the convention industry back to normal. Still, Clarke expects some pushback.
“I’m sure there will be some pushback … but I think the majority of employers are looking at policies already — they’ve either adopted them or they’ve been looking at the right policy for their workplace — and this seems to be where a lot of them are landing,” she said.
President Biden is taking steps to make testing more available, more affordable, and more convenient.
He says he is outlining his plan to increase the production of rapid tests – including at-home tests. Working with top retailers to provide kits “at cost.”
Conventions, which keep Las Vegas hotels full year-round during the week, sustain many supporting businesses between busy weekends. This step could bring back a feeling of safety for people traveling to attend the conventions.
Clarke emphasized the role many Las Vegas resorts have already played in getting Nevada back on track.
“I think we should be very proud of our resort industry. They, from Day 1, have been leaders in figuring out how to navigate COVID … how to keep their employees safe, their customers safe,” she said.