Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) has issued a directive exempting Nevada conventions from COVID-19 mask requirements if all in attendance are vaccinated. Large special events in Las Vegas usually are held at the Convention Center or local casinos.
Under the governor’s directive, event organizers can “choose between requiring masks indoors for all attendees, regardless of vaccination status, or ensuring that all attendees are vaccinated, in which case fully-vaccinated attendees can remove their masks.”
Fully vaccinated people are those who have gone two weeks since their second Pfizer or Moderna shot or two weeks since a single Johnson & Johnson shot.
The governor’s directive applies to Nevada counties, such as Clark County, with “substantial” or “high” COVID-19 community transmission rates. Las Vegas is in Clark County. Most of the major casinos on the Las Vegas Strip are outside city limits, under the county’s jurisdiction.
The area’s rising coronavirus infections and low vaccination rate prompted health officials in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Hawaii to caution against traveling to Las Vegas
Virginia Valentine, president and CEO of the Nevada Resort Association (NRA), said the NRA appreciates convention organizers having flexibility in attracting visitors, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The NRA is the casino industry’s lobbying arm.
Large gatherings, whether they be trade shows and conventions or special events, are critical to Southern Nevada’s economy and the tens of thousands of jobs that depend on this business,” she said.
At least two upcoming conventions, the CES show and the National Association of Broadcasters’ event, are requiring proof of vaccination to enter.
No Medical, Religious Exemptions
Under the governor’s directive, the convention or event must have 4,000 or more attendees to qualify for the no-mask provision.
The convention organizer will have to develop a system to verify if an attendee is vaccinated and whether someone is too young to have received a vaccine, according to the directive. Those who are ineligible for a vaccine because of their age must wear a face covering for the entire event.
People who are only partially vaccinated can attend but must wear a mask at all functions.
Medical and religious exemptions “cannot be accommodated,” the directive states.
Conventions Crucial to Las Vegas
Conventions, which bring large numbers of people to Las Vegas, are seen as vital in filling up hotel rooms on the resort corridor. Since 1999, Las Vegas resorts have made more money from conventions and hotel amenities than from gambling, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Conventions are seen as especially important during the slower middle of the week. Low midweek demand in the pandemic’s earlier stages forced several casino companies to close their hotel towers temporarily.
Since COVID-19 cases began to spike in March 2020, conventions have been slow to return to Las Vegas, adding to the area’s economic woes.
Last year, more than 34 percent of eligible employees at one point were without work in the Las Vegas Valley, the worst rate in the nation, according to the Wall Street Journal. Las Vegas continues to lead the nation’s large cities in unemployment, though the rate is in the single digits now.
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