Delta variant changes the game in Vegas

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T0830RAIDERS2_C_HR [Credit: Chelsea Christensen / Las Vegas Raiders]
Raider Rusher greets a young Raiders' fan during a preseason game on Aug. 14, the first-time fans were allowed to see the NFL team in person at Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders will require proof of vaccination to attend regular-season games; kids not eligible for the jab will need to wear masks.. Photo Credit: Chelsea Christensen / Las Vegas Raiders
Paul Szydelko
Paul Szydelko

It was supposed to be the summer of optimism and unbridled recovery for the tourism industry in Las Vegas.

Positive signs were everywhere you looked. Occupancy limits, social distancing directives and mask requirements were lifted on June 1; Resorts World opened its doors on June 24; Strip-wide fireworks lit up the sky on the Fourth of July; there was a sold-out Garth Brooks concert at Allegiant Stadium and the UFC 264 mixed martial arts event at T-Mobile Arena on July 10; and the WNBA played its All-Star Game at Michelob Ultra Arena on July 14.

And then, delta came to town. The spread of the Covid variant, coupled with vaccine hesitancy, has prompted many in the industry to tighten up restrictions again.

Since July 30, everyone has been required to wear a mask indoors again, whether they're vaccinated or not. And now, a number of event organizers are imposing an additional step: Guests must be inoculated or test negative for Covid-19 before they're allowed admission.

Guests attending the Life Is Beautiful festival Sept. 17 to 19, for example, must provide proof they are fully vaccinated and received the final vaccine dose at least 14 days before entry date or provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test obtained within the 72 hours leading up to the event.

AEG Presents, with venues such as the Theatre at Resorts World Las Vegas and the Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, has issued a similar directive, effective Oct. 1.

"We have come to the conclusion that, as a market leader, it was up to us to take a real stand on vaccination status," AEG's Jay Marciano said. "Just a few weeks ago, we were optimistic about where our business, and country, were heading. The delta variant, combined with vaccine hesitancy, is pushing us in the wrong direction again."

Live Nation's venues will also require ticketholders to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test beginning Oct. 4. The concert promoter's venues in Las Vegas include the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay and Brooklyn Bowl at the Linq Promenade. Live Nation also partners with Caesars Entertainment to run shows at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace and Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood as well as with MGM Resorts for events at the Park Theater.

Those attending CES in January will be asked to show proof of vaccination, according to a blog post Aug. 17 by Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, producer of the massive tech show.

"We know our decision to require vaccines, and potentially positive antibody tests, may not be popular for some," Shapiro said. "But for many others it will allow them to know they can experience CES once again and get back to business as usual."

Guests in venues with fixed seating for more than 4,000 who have been asked to prove they have been completely inoculated against Covid-19 will be allowed to remove their masks, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Aug. 16. It is a measure to provide an incentive for vaccinations, he said.

"This gives an option for event organizers to choose between required masks indoors for all attendees, regardless of vaccination status, or making the choice to allow only vaccinated individuals into their events, and letting the fully vaccinated take their masks off."

Hours after Sisolak's directive, the Las Vegas Raiders announced ticketholders to regular-season games at Allegiant Stadium must show proof of vaccination through Clear's free mobile app and Health Pass feature. (MGM Resorts International and Sands Corp. have used that app for conventions and meetings for months.)

Starting with the Sept. 13 game, fully vaccinated fans will not have to wear masks; partially vaccinated attendees and children ineligible to receive vaccines must remain masked. The Raiders said that they will offer vaccines before games.

Those going to meetings, conventions, concerts, theatrical productions, games and special events in Nevada are advised to visit the organizer's website to get the latest information on guest protocols before attending.

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