A Las Vegas local shares how the city is handling holiday festivities during the pandemic
A city usually known for bright lights and booming nightlife is a lot quieter this holiday season due to COVID-19. Last year, according to Statistica, Las Vegas welcomed 43 million visitors. But this year, for the start of the holiday season in October, tourism occupancy was down to just under 2 million for the month.
With less tourism and a new convention and visitors bureau motto of “Stay Safe, Stay Open,” you may be wondering what practices Las Vegas has implemented to keep its tourism-dependent economy open for business this holiday season.
Here’s an overview of what safety measures you can expect in Las Vegas for the holidays.
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In November 2020, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced a statewide “pause” due to rapidly growing COVID-19 numbers and certain restrictions -- like a 25% cap on bar and restaurant capacity -- will be in effect until at least January 15. But, there are currently no restrictions for travelers entering the state of Nevada.
Related: 9 ways Las Vegas is different in the age of COVID-19
Lower capacity for key holiday attractions
For the holiday season and beyond, visitors can expect lower capacity at popular holiday attractions. Among the most popular are rooftop ice skating at The Cosmopolitan, themed holiday pop-up bars, hotels and resorts on The Strip with fun holiday displays, the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory and an “out-of-this-world” experience at the brand-new shopping and dining complex, AREA15, which is two miles off The Strip. At AREA15 you can "hang glide" indoors, attend an immersive sound-and-light show, watch an ax dual, strap into a flight simulator and more.
Open attractions are operating at 25% capacity and the best way to secure a spot is to book in advance if possible. Otherwise, many of the attractions are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Most can be booked either online or by phone, which allows the guest to choose a timeslot and visit when there are fewer people. Other no-fee attractions allow you to wait in a capacity-controlled line. Many hotels and resorts that host holiday-themed displays are operating in the same manner.
Related: 10 things no one tells you about Las Vegas
Lower capacity for dining and hotels
Dining and hotel capacity all over Las Vegas is limited to 25%. In addition, no more than four people may dine together at the same table, and guests must book a reservation for all restaurants.
In addition, amenities at many of the hotels have been limited to only accommodate activities and services that allow for mask-wearing and/or social distancing. Hotel casino floors are also at 25% capacity.
On the upside, guests will notice much stricter cleaning protocols by hotel staff and plexiglass shielding at casino tables, the concierge desk and other public areas. Many hotels and casinos have stations for temperature checks and thermal scanners upon entry and some are providing PPE kits at check-in that include hand sanitizer and masks for the safety of guests.
Las Vegas is known for its world-class entertainment. Unfortunately, there has been a pause in shows and entertainment since April. As of December 2020, shows have just started to reboot with limited seating.
While show openings are still very limited, Vegas.com is a great place to get reliable information about what shows are available for your visit. The same as any other Las Vegas attraction, the best practice is to call or book show tickets as early as possible to secure a spot.
behavior reminders and signage
With the increase of COVID-19 numbers and the implementation of health and safety protocols, there is an increased sense of responsibility for both locals and visitors that we did not see present in the city before.
Everyone is expected to wear face masks in all public areas unless eating or drinking while stationary.
Patrons are expected to remain six feet apart. Guests will frequently find floor markings and labels in public areas of hotels and attractions to help them maintain social distance.
Patrons are also expected to frequently wash hands or use hand sanitizer. There are reminder signs as well as hand sanitizing stations
Guests who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 are expected to adhere to the honor system and quarantine in isolation, as there are no current travel restrictions or test requirements for entering the state.
The good news is that there is still plenty to see and do while remaining socially distant in Las Vegas. Locals will tell that some of the best Las Vegas attractions are located both on and off The Strip.
Here are some top picks from a local's perspective that allow for social distancing.
- Linq High Roller: Take a ride on the world’s tallest observation wheel at 550 feet tall. This ride allows modified spacing of groups in individual pods.
- Glittering lights at The Las Vegas Speedway: This North Las Vegas attraction allows you to view Christmas lights from inside your vehicle.
- Ice skating in Downtown Summerlin: This ice-skating attraction is lesser known than the rooftop ice skating at The Cosmopolitan, which means fewer crowds. Also, it's an outdoor activity.
- Christmas shopping: The Las Vegas Premium Outlets North, Downtown Summerlin and The District at Green Valley ranch are all open-air.
- Cactus Garden at Ethel M. Chocolate Factory: View more than a 500,000 Christmas lights and holiday displays outside.
- Linq Promenade: Explore the Linq promenade holiday decorations and its live-music scene.