In a move that will make it safer to reopen the state and bring back conventions and tourists to the Las Vegas Strip, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced that he’s moving up COVID-19 vaccination availability to everyone 16 and older on April 5.
All Nevadans 16 and older who have underlying health conditions can get the vaccine through pharmacies and supermarkets starting on March 22.
“This is a critical step forward in our vaccination effort that will allow more Nevadans to schedule appointments and receive their shot,” Sisolak said in a press conference on Wednesday.
Clark County already allows hospitality and food service workers to get vaccinated. On March 11, the Southern Nevada Health District and State of Nevada announced that restaurant, bar, and hotel employees can book appointments to receive either the first of two doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or the one-dose version from Johnson & Johnson.
So far, the state vaccinated more than 360,000 Nevadans, about 11.4 percent of the state’s population, by Wednesday, according to Nevada Health Response, the state’s COVID-19 response site, while the state administered another 640,000 initial doses. Last week, President Joe Biden urged states to make vaccinations available to all by May 1.
Already, World of Concrete, which draws about 60,000 people, plans to take place June 8-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Nightclub & Bar Show returns to the convention center June 28-30 with more than 40,000 attendees. M.A.G.I.C., the sprawling fashion show spread out all over the Strip and drawing around 78,000, returns August 9-11. JCK, the huge jewelry show, plans to return to Las Vegas August 24-26 at the Sands Expo Center, bringing more than 23,000. Before the pandemic, an estimated 22,000 conventions held events in Las Vegas, a lifeline for restaurants and bars.
In January, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported 1.3 million visitors to Las Vegas, down 63.5 percent from January 2020. Overall, Las Vegas saw 19 million visitors in 2020, down 55 percent from 2019.
The news comes after the state allowed Nevada casinos, restaurants, and bar to open at 50 percent capacity on Monday, March 15. The move, part of the state’s Roadmap to Recovery, expands capacity from a month-long mandate of 35 percent in Nevada’s effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, a battle that started more than a year ago when the state closed all nonessential businesses — including casinos, restaurants and bars — on March 17, 2020.
The state also lifted capacity limits on events, which can now host at 50 percent capacity or up to 250 people, whichever is less, if the organizer submits plans to the Department of Business & Industry.
The state already indicated that if COVID-19 numbers continue to decline, counties will then have the authority to expand openings on May 1.