(UPDATE: Mask were required when indoors again from July 30th, 2021 – February 10, 2022. The mask mandate is no longer in effect)
Vegas is back. Kind of.
The cab driver on my way from the airport said that Vegas was back. And on the surface, that’s believable. There are a lot of people on the Strip. Shows are reopening and most restaurants and clubs are open. The airport is crowded. That’s about as far as it goes. Even though the airport was busy, they have only 1 taxi line open and there wasn’t much of a wait when I landed.
Many restaurants have reopened, but not all of them. The ones that are open tend to require reservations. The lineup I saw waiting to get in to Catch at Aria right when they opened was comical. I considered going to the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars, but all reservations were sold out for the duration of my last trip. Late night dining options are very limited (and you can expect long lines at the ones that are). It seems like more restaurants are reopening each week, though (like Fleur at Mandalay Bay reopening July 26th).
As a general rule, masks are not required if you are vaccinated.
If everyone is being honest, it looks like over 90% of the people in Las Vegas are vaccinated. I don’t believe that, though. I did get a few looks for wearing mine. Most staff members wore masks, but not all of them. I am guessing that some vaccinated staff may not be required to wear masks. I wasn’t happy that the Cosmo room service person came right into my room without a masks, though.
In 2020, land-based casinos all around the world were forced to shut down activities, to comply with lockdowns and social distancing measures imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19. After a few months, these venues were authorized to resume operations under severe restrictions, including limited capacity and distancing protocols.
But now, as COVID-19 cases decline and vaccinations increase, several Las Vegas casinos are loosening these restrictions; casino floors are set to return to a 50% occupancy limit and many venues on The Strip returned to 24-hour operations.
In Canada, the Ontario provincial government allowed casinos to reopen, and gambling venues in Alberta are expected to do so by the end of March. European casinos and gambling venues also benefited from the rise in vaccinations, as countries such as Poland already restarted operations. In the United Kingdom, the largest gambling market in Europe, sports betting venues and casinos are expected to reopen in April and May, respectively.
Casinos in Las Vegas had been operating at a limited 25% capacity since November, when they were allowed to increase the occupancy to 35% in February. But Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak recently signed an emergency directive loosening the state’s health restrictions, allowing casinos to increase capacity from 35% to 50%. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, this led to big crowds flooding the Las Vegas Strip and casino floors in the first weekend following the announcement.
Moving a franchise from one city to another is a common occurrence in US sport. That’s what has happened in the NFL this year with the Raiders moving from Oakland to Las Vegas. Just how will they get on in their new home?
This isn’t a franchise that is alien to Super Bowl success or moving to a new home. When playing in Oakland, they won two titles and one more after moving to Los Angeles. No one is saying that their first season in Las Vegas is going to see them win the Super Bowl.
The Raiders will play their home fixtures at the brand-new Allegiant Stadium. It’s a great arena, but at present, no fans will be allowed into games due to the ongoing health crisis. It’s good to see the NFL come to Las Vegas, though, and hopefully, it won’t be too long before fans can attend. A weekend of gambling, entertainment, and an NFL game sounds highly appealing.
Many things are changing as casinos reopen during the COVID pandemic. The most important change right now is that you are going to need to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth whenever you are inside a public area of the building. That means you need to be wearing it when in the casino, in the lobby, walking down the hotel hallway, in a public bathroom, at bars and restaurants, etc. That is a statewide mandate from Gov. Sisolak. The mandate also include public spaces outdoors where six feet of social distancing can be observed. That means you should wear it whenever you head out since you can’t guarantee that you’ll have six feet of space when walking down the Strip or on Fremont Street. The mandate goes a step further than what MGM and Caesars had already put into place require mask use, but only in a few areas.
There are limited exceptions for children 9 and under, individuals where wearing a mask would be a health or safety risk, when dining and drinking and when exercising or doing socially distanced recreational activities outside.
The new mask mandate actually simplifies a number of things. As a general rule, if you are staying at a resort you should be wearing a masks unless you are in your room with family.