It’s no secret that the fear, uncertainty, and safety precautions surrounding the Covid-19 crisis have had a significant and undeniable effect on the service and entertainment industries over the last year. Perhaps nowhere in the United States has been hit harder by mandatory closures, social distancing, and lack of tourism than Las Vegas, Nevada.
After more than a year of lockdowns, social distancing measures, and stay-at-home orders, Las Vegas has been more or less a ghost town. A vacant Strip, empty venues, and restaurants going out of business has transformed this once-vibrant destination into a shadow of its former self. Recent developments, however, are bringing some much-needed optimism to the business owners of Sin City.
Restrictions lessening in Clark County
The first of May heralded some of the best news that local restaurant owners in Clark County could hope for. In preparation for holidays like Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day, state officials have turned over control to Nevada localities to manage all aspects surrounding the health and safety measures involved in combating the Covid-19 pandemic.
As Clark County Commissioners now take charge of Covid-19 mitigation policies and procedures, in cooperation with health and medical experts at the Southern Nevada Health District, they have announced an increase in occupancy limits for dining establishments in the county. This new game plan also includes other relaxed measures that will encourage the start of a return to normalcy for Las Vegas residents and business owners.
Restaurants now at 80% capacity
Raising the limit from 50% to 80% and decreasing social distancing guidelines from six feet to three feet, Clark County officials believe that they can help businesses and still safely control the spread of the deadly virus in their county.
These new guidelines also include raising the maximum number of patrons at a table from six to twelve and from two to four at the bar. Patio seating areas have always been able to operate at 100% capacity but the new indoor rules are welcome news for restaurant owners, who can now start operating daily again and preparing for the inevitable rush on the horizon.
Relaxing restrictions across the board
Other good news has surfaced recently as well. In addition to the new 80% restaurant capacity increase, it’s been announced that self-service buffets, nightclubs, and adult entertainment venues can reopen too, albeit with social distancing caveats. Although many nightclubs fall under the jurisdiction of the Nevada Gaming Board, in order to operate, entertainers at adult venues must comply with rigorous health checks and weekly PCR testing to remain in compliance with local codes.
Mask wearing is still mandatory at all times, a 3-foot social distancing measure is still in place, and hand sanitizer must be used in public places, especially buffets and any venue serving food and drinks.
Grocery stores are now allowed to bring back salad bars, salsa bars, olive bars, condiment stations, and bulk food bins, and patrons can even enjoy food samples in grocery stores as well, as long as social distancing measures stay in place and face coverings are worn at all times.
The state of Covid in Clark County
By all reports, Las Vegas’s Clark County has been doing well keeping its Covid numbers down and getting vaccination numbers up. As of May 2021, more than 44% of eligible Clark County residents had received at least one dose of the vaccination already.
More vaccines, fewer restrictions
More good news is on the horizon too, as a recent announcement suggests. If at least 60% of the 1.8 million eligible residents in Clark County receive at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and case numbers stay low, officials plan to lift all restrictions completely.
This is contingent upon the trifecta of residents actually receiving the vaccine, the 14-day average test positivity remaining at 5% or lower, and weekly case counts staying below 1,150 in the county. Nevada governor, Steve Sisolak, hopes to have every county in the state open at full capacity by June 1st
Tourists & locals, rejoice
With this news, Las Vegas restaurateurs can start bringing out tables and chairs from storage and removing the X’s marking tables as off-limits — already seeing a marked increase in local and out-of-state customers returning.
Business owners, locals, and tourists looking to visit Sin City have been incredibly vocal about their support of these new measures. As the announcement was handed down, Vegas vacationers have already started making plans for their next visit. Even though we have access to well-liked casino games online, it's clear that the real-life thrill of the Las Vegas Strip is still very much in demand.
After people being cooped up for months, unable to experience the sights, sounds, and excitement of Las Vegas, tourists can now feel more confident in returning to the city. Vegas tourism is starting to look up.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or the management of EconoTimes