Mask mandate returns in Las Vegas with WSOP on the horizon

Jon Sofen
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Published: July 28, 2021 6:25 PM EDT

The 2021 World Series of Poker is just over two months away, but its host city — Las Vegas — is bringing a face mask mandate back effective Friday.

Last week, Clark County, Nevada partially reinforced the mandate, but only required workers to mask up. As expected, the COVID-19 restrictions didn’t stop there, and it now applies to everyone in public, including poker players, tourists, workers, gamblers, and anyone visiting a local business or public space.

What’s the deal?

Less than two months ago, Clark County, and most Nevada counties, removed nearly all longstanding COVID-19 restrictions, including social distancing and face coverings. But on Tuesday, Governor Steve Sisolak (D) issued the reinstatement of the mask mandate statewide.

The Democratic politician chose to accept the recommendation of health experts due to Nevada’s continued spread of the Delta variant, a deadlier and more contagious strain than original COVID-19. The Delta variant represented more than 80% of all Nevada coronavirus cases over the past two weeks. As such, the governor is attempting to curb the spread in hopes of keeping his citizens safe.

Many social media users expressed anger toward the reinstated mask mandate, and some argued that Sisolak is only forcing his state to mask up because he is attempting to convince more Nevadans to get vaccinated. As of July 27, only 44% of the state was fully vaccinated, with a total of 52% receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 shot.

Health experts stress that the only way to end the pandemic in the U.S. is for most of society to get vaccinated. But the country is seeing a pushback from a growing anti-vax movement, mostly Conservatives. According to a Yahoo News analysis, the average vaccination rate is 54.4% in states that voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, compared to 41.4% in states that voted for the incumbent, Donald Trump.

WSOP in jeopardy?

When Clark County reinstated the mask mandate for workers last week, most expected further restrictions. And they were right as everyone in public in any Nevada business will be required to wear a face covering starting 12:01 am Friday morning.

How long that mandate will remain in effect is anyone’s guess at this point. That all depends on how quickly the state can stop the spread of COVID-19. Now that masks will soon be required again in the Silver State, many social media users anticipate this only being the start. Some have even said they expect a full lockdown coming soon.

With the 2021 World Series of Poker only two months away, there could be some serious implications for the series. As it stands, 88 gold bracelet events are scheduled for the Rio in Las Vegas between September 30 and November 23. If further pandemic restrictions continue to pop up, the WSOP staff will be forced to postpone the series, eliminate some events, limit entries in each event, or just cancel the series altogether.

But that’s all speculation at this point. The future hasn’t been determined and, as of now, the WSOP staff plans to go full steam ahead with its annual series, and first in Las Vegas since 2019. If the state of Nevada gets its COVID-19 problem under control within the next month, the chances for a successful 2021 WSOP are strong.

Featured image source: Twitter