Lights Out: How The Pandemic Has Changed Las Vegas09/14/2021
Sin City is back! Las Vegas has changed post the pandemic, but the spirit of entertainment still lives on.
When Las Vegas announced COVID-19 curbs on non-essential businesses in March 2020, the lights were out in the biggest entertainment hub of the world. The jam-packed roads leading to popular casinos and glitzy hotels went empty, and smiles were replaced with face masks. Every casino had locks on front doors, and the neon-lit strip was dark for the first time since the funeral of John F. Kennedy in 1963. LED marquees all over the city were displaying well wishes for the community’s health. The Sin City went to sleep.
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Months later, after the pandemic, the city opened its gates to a flood of tourists amidst COVID-19 guidelines. Crowds were restricted, areas were off-limits, social distancing prevailed, and hotel capacities were curtailed. Today, the Las Vegas of 2021 paints a starkly different image compared to 2019. Still, the charm of Sin City is attracting tourists from all over the globe, albeit with a pinch of caution.July 2021 saw tourist numbers spike to 3.3 million, which is comparable to pre-pandemic levels. The latest Delta variant of Coronavirus is casting its shadow on the strolling tourists, but people have turned themselves to the new reality.
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Sin City Is Open – Post Vaccination Trips Are A Vogue
Americans trapped in their houses are yearning for travel and adventure trips. With international flights down, people are discovering new travel hot spots within the country, and Las Vegas tops the list. A post-vaccination trip to magnificent Las Vegas is the perfect escapade. There’s nothing better to celebrate the return of normalcy in life post-COVID-19.
While all may look normal on the surface, a lot has changed underneath the glitzy façade, and COVID-19 is still very much affecting the business environment. To begin with, most types of businesses, including casinos, restaurants, movie theatres, malls, and hotels, are open; but with moderate to high restrictions. Dance shows are back, but the seating is socially distancing oriented.
The city tour operators are also cautious about the tour crowd size, and many locations are off the list. Staff shortages are the norm since many employees have not returned to their previous jobs.Parking fees waived off in late 2020 are back on most hotels and casinos. It was good while it lasted. Most high-end restaurants and casinos waived off numerous types of charges to attract diners, gamblers, and guests. Vaccinations are mandatory for entry into some popular places on the Las Vegas strip. For example, MGM Grand has made vaccination mandatory for its employees.
COVID-19 Casts Its Shadow Over Vegas
The entire entertainment spectrum of Las Vegas now operates within the guidelines framed by The Center for Disease Control. From masking rules to hygiene measures, every business is prompting the customers to remain vigilant about Covid-19. Showgoers must expect strict sanitation as a part of the evening entertainment. Prominent destinations, like MGM Resorts, offer COVID-19 tests to guests in addition to quarantine and on-site vaccination clinics.
Unfortunately, not every business has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Perhaps, the biggest change since March 2020 is the shortage of Uber and Lyft. Like just about everywhere, the taxi service has been hit hard due to a shortage of drivers and longer waiting times. Naturally, the prices have skyrocketed. Subsequently, the rental car charges have gone up significantly, making the option unviable for many tourists.
Luckily, the Las Vegas monorail is in full operation, allowing tourists to explore stops on The Strip. However, don’t expect to walk up and enjoy a meal at any restaurant. Many restaurants still follow reservation protocols where tables are booked in advance. If your favorite restaurant is fortunate enough to be in operation still, it probably is making do with limited staff. Many restaurants are booked weeks in advance to cater to their clientele. Making a reservation instead of walking in has become the norm.
The Story Of Las Vegas 2.0
Despite the pandemic, the growth in new developments goes on. Several pre-pandemic projects are on track to garnish The Strip with exclusive, glitzy entertainment. For example, the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas opened its doors in March, replacing the iconic Hard Rock hotel. The ultra-luxurious $4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas went live offering out-of-the-world Las Vegas experiences to guests.
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FlyOver, the quintessential journey on The Strip, is open, attracting hordes of customers. Furthermore, Vegas Loop, the next-gen underground tunnel-based transportation project of Elon Musk, aims to automate the Las Vegas strolling experience. Currently, Vegas Loop is undergoing testing. Eventually, it will cover the entire downtown Vegas and numerous ‘The Strip’ venues.
So, Las Vegas has proven once again that this city never sleeps, whether a pandemic or not!
Source: Hotel Management, L V Monorail
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