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New Year’s Eve party plans for downtown Las Vegas blocked

Updated December 3, 2020 - 5:04 pm

America’s Party appears to be canceled for now.

The Fremont Street Experience does not have permission to host its annual New Year’s Eve celebration in downtown Las Vegas unless COVID-19 cases drop dramatically, according to documents obtained by the Review-Journal.

It’s the second major Las Vegas Valley event designed to ring in the new year that will not happen in 2020. The Strip’s world-famous fireworks show was canceled by local government officials in October, also over public health concerns.

In a decision backed by the Southern Nevada Health District, a government-appointed work group alerted Fremont Street Experience officials in mid-November that the coronavirus was spreading too rampantly in Clark County for the event to be held.

Plans submitted by Fremont Street Experience officials in early November estimated that about 10,000 people would attend the event, which would stretch out over the six-block entertainment district. State guidelines at the time required any events with more than 250 people would need special approval before being allowed to proceed.

Fremont Street Experience spokeswoman Cassandra Down said it was her understanding that no large events of any kind are being approved.

“Fremont Street Experience is unique in that we are a public street, and we will evaluate all our options regarding New Year’s Eve with our top priority being the health and safety of our guests, partners and employees,” she said.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who routinely attends America’s Party with husband and former Mayor Oscar Goodman, said Thursday she had not yet spoken to the Fremont Street Experience and was unaware of the annual event’s status.

“My hope would be we would be able to celebrate something in a safe and healthy manner, as we have been abiding by all the instructions continuously from the very first one,” she said. “We want to have a bright outlook to 2021.”

Like previous years, the New Year’s Eve party would have featured three stages of live music under the district’s giant LED display canopy. But the plan also outlined new measures aimed at stopping COVID-19 spread among revelers, starting with temperature checks for attendees before they entered the event.

The measures also included enhanced cleaning procedures, workers ensuring attendees were wearing masks and the Viva Vision canopy and other electronic signs regularly displaying reminders about safety guidelines. The event’s three stages would have social distancing markers placed 6 feet apart, and performers would stop their shows if people were not standing on them, according to the plan.

Despite organizers’ assurances they could throw a safe event, the Clark County Recovery Organization Workgroup decided on Nov. 16 to not approve the event because it would “negatively impact the local health infrastructure,” according to a letter written by work group Chair Vincent Queano.

On Nov. 24, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak capped public gatherings to no more than 50 people for the next three weeks. The temporary restrictions are set to expire before New Year’s Eve.

But COVID-19 spread in Clark County is unlikely to reach low enough levels by New Year’s Eve for the event to be held, one Southern Nevada Health District official explained in an email outlining his recommendation to not allow the event.

“Based upon the experience of the summer drop off after the peak on July 11, it took 44 days after the peak for case numbers to return to case numbers (where) the district could consider recommending the event take place,” environmental health supervisor Mark Bergtholdt wrote.

Downtown Las Vegas saw another planned return to normalcy derailed by COVID-19 this summer.

The Fremont Street Experience in June announced it would resume free concerts on its three stages in June. But those plans came to a halt less than a week later because of health and safety concerns.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

Fremont Street Experience Large Gathering Venue Safety Plan Letter 11.16.2020 by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

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