Coronavirus Concerns Lead to Las Vegas Buffet Closures

MGM Resorts will be closing the buffets at seven of its well-known casinos starting this Sunday.

Not that many people would think that traveling to Las Vegas in the midst of likely the most publicized illness outbreaks of our lifetime is a good idea to begin with, but if you do find yourself in Sin City, one of the casino business's best-known features will be harder to come by: Many high-profile resorts on the Strip have reportedly opted to close their buffets due to coronavirus concerns.

Yesterday, MGM Resorts announced that starting this Sunday, March 15, it will temporarily close the buffets at seven of its Las Vegas properties: Aria, Bellagio, Excalibur, Luxor, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, and The Mirage. From there, the closures will be re-evaluated on a weekly basis, according to KLAS. "The safety and health of guests and employees continue to be top priority as the company works with local health officials on protocol and procedures during this time," a spokesperson told the news outlet. MGM added that, during COVID-19 crisis, employees will "work directly with MGM's Labor Relations department to assist with any employment changes, transitions or questions as part of the temporary Buffet closure process."

Luxury Buffet in a hotel restaurant. Focus on sushi.
dogayusufdokdok/Getty Images

For now, this buffet ban seems to be a move only MGM has decided to make. The Los Angeles Times reports that Caesars Entertainment—owner of ten properties in the city—has "no plans to shut down buffets," according to Rich Broome, their executive vice president of communications and government relations. Additionally, Wynn Las Vegas told the L.A. paper that, though the buffet will remain open, additional precautionary measures were being taken. "We will have stationed culinary staff at each food station to serve our guests, which eliminates the need for guests to touch serving utensils," the casino was quoted as saying, adding that they've also added hand-sanitizing stations at the entrance.

Meanwhile, shuttering buffets could have an impact in other parts of the resort, too. Las Vegas's News 3 spoke with Nicolas Alas, who works at a bakery in MGM's Bellagio. "We bake a lot of the baked goods for the buffet, so there's going to be a reduction in demand," he explained, worried about what the future may hold.

Read more about how coronavirus is affecting the food industry here.

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