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9 ways Las Vegas is different in the age of COVID-19

Aug. 14, 2020
9 min read
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As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials' guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.
Viva Las Vegas. I've been to Sin City many times, but I've never seen it like it is right now in the age of coronavirus. It's a brave new world of social distancing, masks, plexiglass, closed casinos, thinned crowds and even hand-washing stations at some entrances on the Las Vegas Strip. Unfortunately one thing hasn't changed. Resort fees are still being billed, despite reduced services at many resorts.For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.Here are nine ways Las Vegas is different.

Smaller crowds

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

I've never seen Las Vegas as empty as it was in August. That said, it can still get crowded in spots where people tend to congregate (think pedestrian crossing bridges). I saw plenty of crowding around buskers and with groups of friends. In general, though, it was refreshing to see the city with so few people.

The one area that was a glaring difference was at the airport. Getting off the plane, it was crowded in the terminal and the people movers at the airport were full. The baggage claim area was a nightmare of crowds and it was even worse at the area where you go to get your Uber or Lyft. Not only was there not enough social distancing, the area is a pedestrian danger zone. My Uber driver told me several people have been hit trying to cross traffic to get their ride share. It was the place where I felt most in danger of being exposed to coronavirus.

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Related: Vegas on opening weekend

Masks required

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

The state of Nevada requires visitors to wear masks in public places, such as casinos, restaurants and other common spaces. Overall, I would say compliance was running at 95% which impressed me. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to wear a mask with many people wearing masks below the nose or loudly chatting on cell phones with the mask pulled down to the chin. I didn't see anyone yelled at for not wearing masks though I did see workers ask a few folks entering a couple of the casinos to put on a mask.

Social distancing

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Social distancing signage was nearly everywhere I went (see gallery below). Unfortunately, the signs weren't always successful at directing behavior. I will say most of the time in the city, I felt I could safely get away from crowds of people even in the casinos. I felt especially safe at my hotel, the Hilton Grand Vacations Elara, where there was plenty of space, signs and hand sanitizer. It was far enough off the strip that I felt safe; plus there is no casino.

Sanitizer everywhere

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Sometimes it felt like there were more hand sanitizers than people in Las Vegas! You can check out the gallery below but there was no shortage of opportunities to get free hand sanitizer squirts (though why -- oh why -- would you put in a sanitizer machine with a button you have to touch!?).

Hand washing stations!

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Never did I ever expect to see hand-washing stations at the entrances to casinos. Sure enough, there they were front and center at the Bellagio. I'm actually incredibly impressed to how well Bellagio handled the pandemic. That was the casino where I saw the most attention to safety protocols including the use of plexiglass screens at poker tables and dealers wearing full face masks.

Related: Vegas goes dark for 30 days

Much is still closed

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

There are lots of venues and casinos that are shut down. Planet Hollywood is shuttered. It's website says "For the well-being of our team members and guests we have temporarily closed."

Caesers Entertainment owns Planet Hollywood. Several of its other properties are also closed including the Cromwell, Rio Las Vegas, and the LINQ isn't taking hotel reservations. MGM Entertainment's Park MGM -- including the NoMad hotel -- is also closed.

The Mirage announced on Aug. 10 it would reopen on Aug. 27.

Some poker rooms remain shut, and not all gambling rooms are available.

Related: All you need to know about Las Vegas loyalty programs

All the malls are open, but some stores and attractions are still shuttered. Note that there is very limited capacity at some shops so the popular designer boutiques including Balenciaga, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci have lines to get in.

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

The Mob Museum and The Neon Museum have reopened. The number of visitors is limited, and would-be tourists are advised to buy timed tickets in advance.

Most restaurants are open again with limited hours and capacity. Same deal for most resort pools. Pools are supposed to adhere to social distancing guidelines, but I didn't see that enforced at all.

Lax enforcement

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Enforcement was not a thing that I really saw while I was in Las Vegas. Aside from a lot of signs admonishing folks, I saw few workers enforcing any mask-wearing, social distancing or doing crowd control. The use of plexiglass shields was rare. Most dealers and cocktail workers were wearing masks, but very few were wearing face shields or gloves.

Related: Getting to Vegas on points and miles

Most nightclubs and parties are closed down

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

The Nevada governor ordered nightclubs and most daytime clubs shut down. That means popular venues like Omnia and Marquee Las Vegas are closed for now.

There is some good news for 'club kids.' Day clubs are offering socially distanced and adults-only pool parties. Crowds are much smaller (though maybe not small enough), and you'll need reservations and a table. Some of those pool parties are even during nighttime hours.

Most are featuring music by local resident DJs. You aren't likely to see big-name DJs until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

No shows

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

One of the top things to do in Las Vegas isn't available at the moment. All shows were closed back in March, and there's no firm dates on when they will resume. Some restaurant bars had reopened and a few venues were even selling tickets again, but a resurgence of cases led to a second shutdown in July.

In fact, the loss of revenue from Las Vegas is one of the reasons given for the bankruptcy of Cirque du Soleil.

MGM Resorts International says concerts and other entertainment likely won’t return in August. Others have suggested they won't return this year.

Gatherings of 50 or more people are not allowed under current Nevada COVID-19 restrictions.

Bottom line

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Vegas was fascinating to see during COVID-19, but I didn't really feel that safe. The crowds at McCarran International Airport (LAS) at baggage claim and especially in the line for Uber freaked me out. I personally wouldn't go back until there is a vaccine, and I certainly wouldn't spend more than the 10 minutes I did at each casino, even though I think they are doing what the can to keep the virus at bay.

Featured image by (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases