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In Las Vegas, the marquees display encouraging messages, and hotel room windows are illuminated nightly with hearts and inspirational sayings such as “Hope Shines Bright.” They all serve as a reminder to the world that Sin City will be back. But what exactly will it look like?
Among the hundreds of new protocols, executives envision a post-pandemic Las Vegas with thermal cameras, masked employees, hand sanitizer stations and social distancing on the casino floor, according to detailed plans released by Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts International and the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, owners of The Venetian and The Palazzo.
Nevada casinos have been closed since March 18 with residents under a statewide stay-at-home order. Governor Steve Sisolak lifted some regulations on May 9, allowing restaurants, barbershops, salons and retailers to open and operate under strict social distancing rules.
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Within weeks, casinos on the Las Vegas Strip could reopen. Wynn and Encore are accepting reservations starting May 26, while The Venetian and The Palazzo plan to reopen sometime in June. The state will make the final call.
Whenever Las Vegas casinos are allowed to open, other properties on the Strip will remain closed until demand warrants, operators say. Bill Hornbuckle, acting CEO of MGM Resorts International, says the company would first only open its New York-New York and Bellagio resorts. Caesars Entertainment is also planning a phased opening of just a couple properties including Caesars Palace.
Buffets, shows, concerts and nightclubs will not initially reopen when resorts do.
What we can do, is take what we know about the virus and give people the tools they need to be safe and responsible and create environments designed to curb its spread.
“We look forward to welcoming our guests and team members back to our properties as soon as it is appropriate to do so,” said Tony Rodio, CEO of Caesars Entertainment, in a statement.
Safety First Putting precautions in place to protect visitors and staff is top of mind for casino operators. In preparation for reopening, both Wynn Resorts and the Sands Corporation have begun free COVID-19 testing of employees. They also announced they will use thermal cameras to check the temperatures of guests as they enter the properties. Anyone registering a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit will undergo a secondary screening.
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Casinos citywide will employ touchless technology and hand sanitizer stations. Visitors will be encouraged to use face coverings provided by the properties. All casino employees and dealers will be required to wear face masks.
MGM Resorts unveiled a seven-part plan: employee screening, temperature checks and training; personal protective equipment; physical distancing; hand washing and sanitization; HVAC control and air quality; incident response protocols; and digital innovations.
“There is no proven playbook for the current challenges,” Hornbuckle said. “It will take some time for life to return to a sense of normalcy. We cannot stop enjoying life until then. What we can do, is take what we know about the virus and give people the tools they need to be safe and responsible and create environments designed to curb its spread. The protocol to clean a room in this environment is going to be intensive.”
The visitor experience is changing: Guests checking into their rooms will access elevators in groups of four or less to find rooms thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and sealed with a disinfection sticker. Venetian guests will receive amenity kits with face masks, gloves, sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
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Social Distancing LayoutsStrict social distancing will be enforced in all common areas. In the casino, visitors will find more space between slot machines and gaming tables. At the pool, there will be increased distancing between lounge chairs, while restaurants and bars will also increase space between groups.
The new orders will only allow for three players at each blackjack table, six players per craps table, four players per roulette table and four players per poker table. Casino chips, cards, dice and buttons on slot machines will be cleaned frequently. Plexiglass dividers between seats may even be used.
“The eventual recovery could take more time in Las Vegas than in Asia, but we’re confident that Las Vegas’ best days are ahead of it,” said Sheldon Adelson, founder and CEO of Sands Corporation, on a recent earnings call.
Read more from TravelAge West about the COVID-19 outbreak.