LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada regulators say casinos seeking the state’s OK to raise the current gambling floor occupancy limit above 50% must take steps to encourage their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Gaming Control Board and Gaming Commission on Friday issued a memo with guidelines pushing casinos to provide paid time off for employees to be vaccinated, coordinate transportation to vaccine sites and make arrangements with pharmacy companies for vaccine distribution.

The state on March 15 increased maximum gambling floor occupancy at 50% of capacity, up from 25%, and the regulators have been authorized beginning May 1 to approve reopening plans with higher occupancy limits.

The memo said operators’ requests for higher capacity limits “will only be taken in cases where licensees have taken measurable and material steps” to vaccinate their workforce.

“Hospitality workers, many of which are front-of-house personnel interacting with visitors from around the globe, are critically positioned to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 both within the industry, and the community as a whole,” the memo said. 

The memo said Nevada’s hospitality workforce has a “relatively low degree of vaccination penetration,” though some companies have begun taking steps to encourage employees to be vaccinated.

The two biggest Las Vegas casino companies — MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment — along with the Cosmopolitan and Wynn Resorts are already inoculating employees at clinics set up on their properties. And Station Casinos will open six on-site clinics Tuesday.

MGM said in a statement that vaccination “is a critically important tool in helping to end the pandemic and accelerate our community’s economic recovery.”

“We’re committed to doing all that we can to help get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible by removing barriers to access and bringing vaccination clinics directly to our employees and their families,” the MGM statement added.

Effective Monday, Nevada will increase its age-based eligibility for vaccinations to all people age 16 and older.

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