Over a month ago, Las Vegas casinos were given the green light to reopen its door to guests and employees on June 4. But, only a handful of casinos reopened to start, with other Strip resorts choosing to wait it out to while they examine the lay of the land in the age of reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.
MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, the largest two casino operators in the Vegas Valley, were the first to get a few of their properties on board initially.
Among the properties which have since seen the light of day from those operators after a near three-month shutdown are The Bellagio, New York-New York, MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Harrah’s, Linq Promenade, and Paris Las Vegas.
Next up from Caesars Entertainment to reopen will be Bally’s Las Vegas, set to reopen July 23 with nearly all of its amenities open to the public. It will be the fifth Caesars property to reopen.
Las Vegas is in an interesting conundrum at the current moment. It’s seeing an increased demand in customer visitation and interest, especially with Summer in full effect and popular holidays here like the most recent 4th of July weekend, but the Silver State, along with the rest of the country, is seeing a large uptick of COVID-19 cases, and that’s forcing the city to move differently.
A lot is changing in Las Vegas to stay compliant with COVID-19 safety protocols. Just recently, casino owners are taking a serious look into changing their smoking policies.
To date, there are 23 resorts on the Las Vegas Strip that have reopened. Let’s take a look at what has opened up and closed in the famed destination this week.
Resorts Reopening, While Other Resorts Are Limiting Reservations
On Wednesday, July 1, Aria, Delano, Mandalay Bay, and Waldorf Astoria welcomed back guests in good timing, just ahead of the 4th of July weekend. The Luxor and Westgate also opened the week prior.
Caesars CEO Tony Rodio said that the decision to reopen Bally’s Las Vegas came out of seeing the heightened customer demand in visiting Las Vegas this summer.
While it’s great to see more Las Vegas resorts reopening, the city seems to be pulled in opposite directions based on the current trajectory of the virus outbreak.
According to Las Vegas-based Union Gaming analyst John DeCree, the customer demand signals are mixed and could very well remain that way for some time. DeCree explains that Vegas is mostly dependent on drive-in visitation and gaming customers, which typically make up the midweek group of business.
DeCree says that if those big groups of customers are more hesitant to come into town, that the majority of that business will be much harder to come by.
Las Vegas’ convention industry is the driving force behind the city’s midweek hotel occupancy, but with that industry down, that’s another hit to midweek numbers. Experts predict that the convention industry will take anywhere between 18 and 36 months to bounce back, much longer than the travel’s leisure industry.
Resorts Begin Limiting Reservations
With the Governor cracking down on stricter safety protocols amid the rise of coronavirus cases, resorts are taking note, with some resorts limiting weekday reservations to meet the demand of weekend travelers for the summer.
Las Vegas Sands announced last Saturday that their properties would no longer be accepting reservations on weekdays, starting July 21. The company stated the move was to be able to better reflect occupancy patterns, as a direct response to travel demand for the summer season.
The Palazzo, for example, will be closing certain hotel towers and venues, such as some of their restaurants and resort pool, midweek when the occupancy rates are much lower, and reopening them on the weekends to be available for increased customer visitation and demand.
Weekday Demand vs Weekend Demand
While the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority hasn’t released updated visitation numbers since the city’s casinos reopened on June 4, the number of casinos, and the rate to which they have opened, are an indication of the increased customer visitation and interest.
According to Brendan Bussmann, director of government affairs for Las Vegas-based Global Market Advisors, the city’s weekend traffic is a positive sign that Las Vegas is in a period of recovery, especially as additional properties reopen and increased air travel to Sin City.
Mandatory Mask Policy in Nevada
On June 26, mask usage became a requirement for all casino guests in Nevada. Before that, it was strongly encouraged, but not mandatory. It has been mandatory for all casino staff since reopening on June 4, however.
Masks are now a requirement for nearly all public space in the Silver State as of today.
In casinos, all individuals must wear a mask while on property and playing, except for whenever eating or drinking.
What’s All Open in Vegas?
Nobu, the hotel within Caesars Palace, recently reopened on July 2.
The Shoppes at Mandalay Place also reopened alongside the Luxor, as well as the Shark Reef Aquarium. At the Luxor, the HyperX Esports Arena, an arena for esports gamers, also opened, as well as many of Luxor’s restaurants and bars, such as Diablo’s Cantina and Pyramid Café.
Speaking of restaurants, Aria reopened its famed Catch, Jean Georges Steakhouse, and Salt & Ivy dining experiences.
At Waldorf Astoria, Zen Café reopened and so did the popular Skybar on the properties 23rd floor, which offers sweeping views of the Las Vegas Strip. Skybar also offers small bites, which allows it to stay open during the latest closure of Las Vegas bars.
On Thursday, the Fly Linq at Linq Promenade will allow visitors to begin soaring again, as well as the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas. At the Paris, its popular Gordon Ramsay Steak and Eiffel Tower Restaurant reopened, that give amazing views of the Fountains of Bellagio located across the street.
Two popular Las Vegas day clubs also opened ahead of Independence Day; Liquid Pool Lounge at Aria and Wet Republic Ultra Pool at MGM Grand. Per reservation, the day clubs will be open Thursdays through Sundays right now.
At the Cosmpolitan, their adults-only pool, Marquee, has reopened from 11 a.m. through sunset on Fridays through Sundays, with reservations required. Guests at the pool will be able to enjoy
At the Wynn, they’ve opened up their new restaurant Elio for a summer preview. The new restaurant will be serving up contemporary Mexican dishes.
What’s interesting is that the Wynn also opened up their buffet, but it came with a lot of changes due to coronavirus safety protocols. It’s not the normal long tables full of hot food where you can serve yourself. No, instead diners are required to stay at their tables and order as much food as they can handle from a server.
Bellagio’s Spago by Wolfgang Puck has also reopened from 5 to 10 p.m., Friday through Tuesday.
Topgolf, located near MGM Grand, is now open and ready to serve up some non-gaming fun to patrons.
Half of the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood have also reopened to the public, with limited hours. The adjoining Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino is still closed as of today.
And Harrah’s is getting their first performer back, Vegas’ renowned Big Elvis, a.k.a. Pete Vallee.
Downtown, the Neon Museum has reopened to a limited number of visitors, and the Mob Museum has also reopened, doing temperature checks on its guests at the door.
Bars Close Back Down
On last week’s state address, Gov. Steve Sisolak made the announcement that bars were to shut their doors again on Friday, July 10, amid the rise of COVID-19 cases in the valley.
It was another tough blow for the hospitality industry, with Vegas seemingly on its way to reopening back to normal.
Many bar owners felt slighted by the news, saying that Sisolak was targeting this specific industry, with bar owners stating that they’ve been in compliance with social distancing and other safety protocols.
Under the governor’s latest order, it has called for seven Nevada counties to return to Phase 1 restrictions for bars. Those restrictions include any bar that doesn’t serve food must close back down, and bars that do serve food are only allowed to offer curbside pickup.
It also means that bar areas of restaurants are to remain closed, with no patrons sitting in that specific area.
Now, it looks like 37 bars in Southern Nevada have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop Gov. Sisolak’s shutdown order that’s targeting these specific drinking establishments.
The lawsuit explains that 80 percent of bars were in compliance with the social distancing orders as of July 3. While 39 businesses around Southern Nevada were cited for noncompliance from June 26 through July 10, none of those businesses were businesses that served alcohol.
Current Coronavirus Status in Clark County
As of this week, Nevada reported its highest number of daily hospitalizations on Tuesday with 1,051 confirmed/suspected cases reported.
The state has also exceeded 30,000 cases, according to data provided by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The total number of current cases stands at 30,468, with 618 COVID-19 related deaths.
Nevada has been setting records for its COVID-19 trends over the past two weeks, with four of its five largest single-day increases being reported within that timeframe.
According to experts, as the capacity for more testing is made available, we can expect to see the state’s numbers climb even higher within the coming weeks.
As of Wednesday, over 457,522 tests have been administered in Nevada.
It’s hard to say what the coming weeks will look like in Las Vegas with the surge of COVID-19 cases.
We’re fortunate that casinos are remaining open, and hope that the shutdown of bars within the valley will help prevent the spread of the virus even further.
The Visit Las Vegas website is staying up-to-date on all government-ordered shutdowns and restrictions and is a good source for interested visitors who are planning to make the trip down soon.
We hope that everyone is continuing to social distance and wear masks out in public whenever possible, and staying safe!
Be sure to check back for more updates regarding the COVID-19 situation in Las Vegas.