The past twelve months has been considerably challenging for the Entertainment Capital of the World as its tourism-reliant economy saw a temporary shutdown just a little over a year ago. While Las Vegas was not immune to the drastic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the city appears to be focused on getting back on its feet and has been moving aggressively towards a return to normalcy. Following its timely progression, the state of Nevada is finally preparing for a full reopening this coming June 1st.
Nevada scheduled to reopen at 100% capacity
A long awaited return has been on the calendar for the past few months with both locals and domestic travelers excited for what’s ahead. Earlier this week, Governor Steve Sisolak announced to the public that every county in the state is expected to resume operations at 100% capacity by June 1, 2021. Prior plans of turning over to respective counties the authority to reopen will remain the same and is set to be effective on May 1st.
“We are aware that some counties may make the decision to move to 100% capacity as early as May 1 when they gain the authority — and others may not. Each county in Nevada is unique and 2 of 7 have different factors to consider – rural or urban settings, community transmission rates in the area, and vaccine administration, among a few”, stated Sisolak.
During this period, Sisolak highlighted that safety precautions such as wearing of masks will continue following the transition. Social distancing however, will only be mandated until the end of the month and will soon be under the discretion of the counties for the following weeks. The state’s aggressive rollout of vaccines will likewise continue in addition to the current record of 25% of Nevadans already vaccinated.
“I wish I could give all Nevadans an exact timeline as to when we can tuck away our masks – but public health officials made it clear that in order to reach our goal of reopening on June 1, we must make sure Nevadans stay masked. It would be irresponsible for me as your Governor to ignore that advice. Additionally, it’s a common sense bargain – if we all continue to wear masks, it will help ensure we can reopen our state by June 1”, said Sisolak.
“As we continue to vaccinate more Nevadans, we will continue to strengthen our defense against future surges and protect our vital public health infrastructure — a goal we’ve had all along” he further added.
With more and more citizens receiving the vaccine, people are starting to once again travel and reconsider those postponed vacation plans after a year of being cooped up. The older demographic – clients over 65 years old, has also been evidently returning to the gaming scene with over 50% of the older American age group already fully vaccinated. The continuous demand only suggests a positive outlook for Las Vegas’ entertainment and tourism industry as the prime destination actively prepares for its anticipated comeback.
Casino industry remains hopeful
Las Vegas’ progress towards normalcy has been fast-paced since the beginning of the year. While 2020 was met with massive losses for many gaming businesses, 2021’s revenue is estimated to see a significant improvement as local travel slowly resumes. At the moment, gaming floors are operational at 50% capacity with weekends drawing in most of the crowd. Recorded occupancy rates are back at roughly 95% on the weekends while midweek occupancy rates have been recorded at 50-60% – double of February’s 30% rates, according to Morgan Stanley’s reports.
“While we thought it was because of Spring Break & March Madness, numerous market participants told us their bookings were stronger than current occupancy, booking windows were expanding and continued to build”, the report stated.
Weekend room rates have also seen a 6% increase for this April as compared to last month’s while still remaining relatively one-third cheaper than its 2019 equivalent. Midweek rates are expected to bounce back following the return of business and convention travel by June. Scheduled as the first major event since the health crisis began, the annual World of Concrete show which regularly draws 60,000 people to the state, will serve as a test run and a breakthrough for the whole business sector.
With the active schedules and uptrend in the Entertainment Capital, the necessity to move forward safely remains on top of the list. Along with Governor Sisolak’s latest announcement, he likewise noted that the Nevada Gaming Control Board will continue to hold authority over gaming establishments throughout the state. This comes in following of a notice released earlier this month as a preemptive measure towards the full reopening of Nevada, aligned with the progressive Roadmap to Recovery.
“Consideration by the (Gaming Control) board to increase gaming floor occupancy will only be taken in cases where licensees have taken measurable and material steps to vaccinate and thereby protect their workforce, visitors and the community”, cited the memo.
The Board made it clear that compliance will be necessary if they wish to expand gaming operational capacity, forcing casino operators to ultimately take action. So far, major companies such as Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts, Station Casinos and Wynn Resorts have started actively rolling out vaccines for their employees. With the current state of how things are moving along, it remains only a matter of time until we see the booming Sin City once again shine bright, with action on its gaming floors stronger than ever.