Gov. Steve Sisolak shut down casinos across Nevada for 78 days starting on March 17 to prevent the spread of coronavirus, leaving 485,525 unemployed statewide through the week ending May 30. More than 360 people died in Clark County, with 7,592 diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the latest numbers from Johns Hopkins University.
As casinos closed, so did activity on the Strip, the main thoroughfare for gambling in Las Vegas. The Fountains at Bellagio stopped dancing to music. Some of the famous Strip marquees such at the Mirage went dark for a while. Bicyclists and families of geese took over the once jam-packed Las Vegas Boulevard, where four miles of neon glowed to few visitors. The city waited to reopen.
On Thursday, June 4, a new hope brought the city back to life as casinos reopened their doors looking quite different. Limited capacity, social distancing, barriers, and hand sanitizer stations to continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19 became the norm. While staff at casinos must wear masks, customers can choose whether to cover their faces. Some casinos even scan guests’ temperature before allowing admission.
Tourists, the lifeblood of the city’s main industry, hospitality, returned to Las Vegass, where the flip of a card or roll of the dice determine fortunes. Visitors drove in from California, which brings an estimated 25 percent of tourism to the state, and flew in from afar. They checked into hotel rooms, ate at restaurants, drank at bars, and wandered through the new look of a city ready to return and face its newest heartache in the face.
No, Las Vegas didn’t return to normal. It did so at 50 percent capacity at best. But already fresh signs of life emerge as more casinos announce plans to reopen, returning hope to the city.
And as Las Vegas is so good at doing, it reopened with style. Here’s a look at how some of the resorts across the Las Vegas Strip welcomed back sorely missed visitors.