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Vegas hotel’s COVID-19 crowd limit challenge tossed by judge

August 13, 2021 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The owner of a Las Vegas hotel that was fined a year ago for defying state coronavirus pandemic restrictions and hosting a beauty pageant and a faith-based Donald Trump campaign rally has lost a court challenge of the governor’s directives that limited meeting sizes.

State Attorney General Aaron Ford said Friday’s ruling against Ahern Hotel and Convention Center amounted to a finding by a court that emergency orders issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak after COVID-19 emerged in March 2020 balance the rights and safety of state residents.

“Today, the court recognized what we already knew – the state has a responsibility to protect the lives of Nevadans,” Ford said.

Attorney Sigal Chattah, representing the hotel owned by construction equipment business mogul Don Ahern, was traveling Friday and unavailable for immediate comment about whether they would appeal.

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In a verbal ruling, Clark County District Court Judge Nancy Allf decided the lawsuit filed in August 2020 was moot because there are no more occupancy limits imposed by the state, Ford said. The city of Las Vegas and its planning director also were named as defendants.

Ahern acquired the hotel in 2019 after it opened in 2016 as the Lucky Dragon and quickly closed.

The property, doing business as 300 West Sahara LLC, was fined nearly $11,000 after holding an “Evangelicals for Trump” event at which a city employee tallied more than 1,100 attendees — far more than the 50-person limit Sisolak has ordered for public and private events at the time.

Organizers of the Mrs. Nevada America pageant held days later removed spectators to comply with crowd limits.

The lawsuit said there was no rational basis that a hotel or convention center should be treated differently than restaurants and casinos, which at the time were allowed to operate at 50% capacity.