Vegas is Back! Las Vegas COVID-19 Update
Las Vegas began welcoming visitors back to the glitz and glamour of its casinos at 12:01am on Thursday,
June 4th. For the first time since March 17th, cards were dealt and dice were thrown.
As Las Vegas began its COVID-19 comeback, many unknown factors hindered America’s adult playground from immediately resuming full operations. These factors include new health precautions and regulations, reduced domestic airline flights, no international flights, and the biggest obstacle…unknown consumer demand during the ongoing pandemic.
Not all resorts opened on June 4th. Resort companies Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resort International opened their properties in a phased approach, yet by the time of this article’s publication, all the famous strip and downtown resorts should be open.
Steve Hill, president/CEO for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority commenting on the reopening said, “Las Vegas is a city built on hospitality, and we are thrilled to open our doors on June 4 and welcome visitors from around the country. While our restaurants, pools and resorts will once again welcome guests, the health and well-being of those guests continues to be our top priority. So, while things might look a bit different for a while, your ‘Only Vegas’ experience is waiting.”
Going forward, the “Only Vegas” experience will be a bit different. The Nevada Gaming Control Board, the state agency that regulates Las Vegas’s casinos, has required that casino operators adhere to new safety rules: blackjack tables are limited to a maximum of 3 players, roulette tables to a maximum of 4, and craps tables to a maximum of 6. Additionally, slot machine areas must be configured to allow for social distancing between slot players and hotel occupancy is capped at 50 percent.
Before casinos could reopen, the State of Nevada required individual casinos to submit detailed operating plans to the Gaming Control Board for approval during the COVID-19 era. All casinos have to demonstrate how they will comply with all the new health safety requirements. While the plans vary by casino, generally they include daily temperature check and mandatory face masks for resort employees, increased cleaning and sanitizing protocols and at some casinos, plexiglass dividers between players at table games. Masks must also be worn by players at table games. Some casino properties are also incorporating non-invasive body temperature checks at entrances, similar to the walk-through temperature checks that have been at some Asian airports for many years.
Changes will also be experienced beyond the casino gaming floor- some changes will actually enhance the experience, some that will not. The best change, the one that is destined to be a guest favorite is the return of complimentary free parking. Yes…FREE parking is back on the Las Vegas Strip! While it is too early to tell if it is back to stay- it will probably stick around at least until there is a notable return to pre-COVID-19 tourism numbers.
At this time, Las Vegas’s meeting and convention business is bit problematic. The State of Nevada currently bans in-person groups larger than 50 people. Social distancing protocols are also required for any group/meeting activities. This makes most meetings, conferences and exhibitions a no-go for now; hopefully changes will be coming soon. In the short term, this means that only smaller events are possible and they will likely include more virtual aspects to increase participation and make them more cost effective.
The last major area of change concerns Las Vegas’s world famous entertainment. When speaking to agents and travelers, everyone always wants to know what is happening with the “Only Vegas” pool scene and entertainment. Hotel pools are open with social distancing protocols in place. Many guests love the Las Vegas pool Day Club concept, however these are currently prohibited. Unfortunately, due to social distancing concerns, Nevada is not currently allowing nightclubs or showrooms to reopen. On the positive side, the amazing Las Vegas restaurant scene is returning, yet until guest counts return to a more normal level, not every strip restaurant will be open. It is always wise to check a resort’s website to see which of their restaurants are currently open. As with everything during this pandemic – information can change quickly, so hopefully, showrooms, nightclubs, and day clubs will return soon.
Prior to the pandemic, Las Vegas had a construction boom happening and most of the mega projects have continued throughout the pandemic. It is great to report that Allegiant Stadium (home to the Las Vegas Raiders) is on schedule for an August 2020 completion. Resort World Las Vegas (a 3,500 room development with three Hilton brands) is still on schedule for a summer 2021 opening. The 777 room Circa Las Vegas Resort (downtown) is still on track for a December 2020 opening, and finally, the 1.4 million square foot West Hall expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center should be ready for its public debut scheduled for January 2021.
For updates, visit www.lvcva.com