So long, prime rib and crab legs: Wynn to close buffets, will screen guests’ temperatures

The Wynn Las Vegas and Encore
The Wynn Las Vegas and Encore.
(John Locher / Associated Press )

Another major Las Vegas hotel group is shutting down its buffets in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

A day after Wynn Resorts said that it would increase staffing and institute enhanced cleaning procedures at its buffets, the gaming company announced that it would be closing them, as well as all theaters and nightclubs at Wynn Las Vegas, Encore and Encore Boston Harbor.

“We are going to continue to pay our full-time employees that work in these spaces,” Chief Executive Matt Maddox said. “We will monitor the situation to determine any additional action that may be required.”

The Las Vegas buffet is a rite of passage for visitors and locals alike — the privilege of packing in as much pizza, pasta, pork loin, fried chicken, beef tamales, cheesecake and apple pie is about as American as, well, apple pie. (We even wrote a buffet guide for Vegas just a couple of months ago.)


But Las Vegas, whose economy depends on the pocketbooks of the 42 million visitors that make the trek to the desert annually, now has to deal with fears surrounding COVID-19, as well as the implications it holds for large groups sharing relatively small spaces like casinos, conference centers and theaters.

Wynn also stated that it would screen guests’ body temperatures at building entrances using “non-invasive thermal cameras,” but did not provide details as to how or when that would be implemented.

On Tuesday, MGM Resorts announced that it will temporarily close its buffets at seven properties: ARIA, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, the Mirage, Luxor and Excalibur. The closures will occur starting Sunday and will continue indefinitely.

“These changes are temporary and will be evaluated on a weekly basis,” MGM said in a statement.


Caesars Entertainment, which operates properties that include Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, Bally’s and the Linq is keeping its buffets open for now.

The Las Vegas Sands Corp., the largest gaming company in the world, did not respond to requests for comment as to whether it would institute a similar policy.

The section of the CDC website that covers buffets provides no specific guidelines regarding coronavirus, but does recommend that food sitting out at room temperature for two hours or more be thrown away, or one hour if it’s sitting at a temperature of 90 degrees or more.