Las Vegas Casinos and Resorts have been closed for two months due to COVID-19 with some gaming companies estimated to be losing as much as $14 million dollars per day (Baily Schulz). Now Nevada Governor, Steve Sisolak, has approved a plan to reopen Nevada casinos on June 4th.
The casinos will open with new safety precautions, equipment, and guidelines in place (Ken Ritter). Tables will now limit the number of players while clear acrylic shields will divide each person from other players and the dealer. Casino chips will be cleaned frequently, dice will be disinfected regularly, and new decks will be introduced more often. Many slot machines will remain off to ensure guests are keeping a safe distance while chasing gold. Guests may be given masks and sanitizer as they enter and they will see signs reminding them to wash their hands. Most hotels will also limit the number of available rooms to not overcrowd their facilities right away. McCarren Airport in Las Vegas has also joined the fight with new health protocols and a new campaign called "LAS All In" to guide guests on best practices and assure travelers the Vegas airport is doing all they can to protect them (Hector Mejia). This may not be the same Las Vegas that helped lead Nevada to three consecutive months of $1 billion casino winnings before COVID-19 struck, but it's a good start.
In addition to casinos opening, Governor Steve Sisolak (@GovSisolak) announced on May 26th, as part of the state's reopening road map, that other businesses such as gyms, retail, malls, movie theaters, places of worship, museums, bars not serving food, spas, pools, etc. could begin opening on May 29th. All of these establishments must use strict social distancing guidelines provided by the Governor and most establishments will be capped at 50% capacity. This decision came after Nevada has seen a significant jump in testing and a 6.5% decrease in their cumulative test positivity rate and 31-day downward trend. Live sporting events with audiences will not open during this phase. When asked what it would take to begin phase 3, Governor Sisloak reiterated a continued downward trend in positive cases and stabilization in some areas. He also mentioned a downward trend in ICU hospitalization and ventilator use, as well as continued testing, would be essential. Phase 2 is expected to last two or three weeks but could last longer if the numbers don't continue to improve.
While Las Vegas is not focusing on exhibit halls specifically at the moment, venues like casinos, malls, museums, etc. give us some insight into what can be expected when they do reopen. For example, protocols like capacity caps are important to understand and plan for. While the overall attendance at shows may be down, the quality of leads could be better. It's also important to understand that cities like Las Vegas need to see smaller venues do well and stabilize before they begin focusing on larger event halls. These next few weeks will give all of us a clearer vision of how close Las Vegas is to getting back to some sort of normalcy based on current conditions. As Exhibitor Media Group's recent email survey shows, many companies are ready to resume their event marketing efforts this year and Las Vegas is one of the biggest cities in the world for these types of events. With that being said, we believe exhibiting companies still need some reassurance that resorts, airlines, airports, etc are able to accommodate them safely. The results from these reopenings could either be a huge stepping stone or a new stumbling block for the trade show industry in 2020. While we are optimistic, we will have to wait and see how what transpires over the next 14-21 days.