MGM to temporarily close Vegas buffets as virus precaution

March 11, 2020 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — One of the largest resort operators in Las Vegas said Tuesday it is temporarily closing buffets at all of its Las Vegas Strip casino-resorts as a precaution amid concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus.

MGM Resorts international announced it will close the all-you-can-eat restaurants starting Sunday and re-evaluate the closure every week.

Buffets, where diners pay a flat fee and often serve themselves at various food stands with unlimited portions, are a signature staple of most casinos in the gambling destination.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.


The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

In China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.

MGM said the decision to close buffets was made out of an abundance of caution and was not recommended by any health officials. Buffets will be closed at seven properties: Aria, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Luxor and Excalibur.

The precautionary move comes as state officials are preparing for 49 Nevadans who were stuck on a cruise ship hit by the coronavirus returning to the state for two weeks of quarantine. Federal health officials say that 21 people aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship tested positive for the virus. Nevada officials say none of the 49 Nevadans has shown any symptoms.

Nevada’s Health and Human Services Department said in a statement Tuesday that the Nevadans will be tested for the virus before boarding a flight to return to the state and the initial results must be available for local health officials.

The 49 people will be flown back to the state on a secure plane set up the federal government that keeps them from entering any commercial airport services and will transport the passengers to their homes. Each person must sign a quarantine declaration, agreeing to confine themselves for 14 days. Local health officials will monitor them during that quarantine period, according to the health department.

The state said it would not release any additional information that would allow the passengers to be identified.