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Las Vegas police discuss New Year’s Eve preparations

Updated December 29, 2020 - 1:59 pm

Las Vegas police are urging the public to follow COVID-19 safety precautions on New Year’s Eve and to be on alert for suspicious activity in light of the Christmas Day explosion in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

Deputy Chief Kelly McMahill of the Metropolitan Police Department, Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore, Clark County Deputy Fire Chief Warren Whitney and Switch Senior Vice President Betsy Fretwell discussed preparations Tuesday during a media briefing at Rob Roy’s Innevation Center.

McMahill said masks and social distancing are important, considering hospitals in Southern Nevada are nearing capacity because of COVID-19, and Naft urged people to celebrate at home.

“I want to personally and very directly ask the members of our community to keep our medical personnel in mind as you celebrate this year,” Naft said. “We’re going to throw the biggest party the world has ever seen next year, but this year we want to support our economy, we want to make sure that everybody is able to celebrate in their own way, but for this year do it with your close friends and family.”

The Strip will not have its annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show this year, but other spots across town have announced plans for midnight celebrations.

Fremont Street will not have live entertainment, but the SlotZilla zip line will be open and the Plaza will have a fireworks show on its rooftop that will be broadcast on local TV, though there will not be public viewing areas.

McMahill said the department could not provide an accurate estimate for this year’s expected attendance on the Strip but said her “guesstimate” would be 200,000. Last year, more than 300,000 visitors packed downtown Las Vegas and the resort corridor, officials estimated.

Meanwhile, health officials have expressed concern over Fremont Street Experience preparing to have as many as 14,000 attendees on New Year’s Eve amid the pandemic.

McMahill said Metro will have a prominent presence at public spaces, with about 1,200 officers on the Strip and about 200 downtown, even though there will be fewer public events and gatherings.

Following the explosion in Nashville on the morning of Dec. 25, McMahill said police are asking for the public’s help in reporting any suspicious behavior to law enforcement. Police will continue doing sweeps of the Strip and downtown in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve. Bags larger than 12 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches will not be allowed, and neither will luggage or strollers.

Las Vegas Boulevard will be closed from Mandalay Bay to Spring Mountain Road beginning at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, McMahill said.

McMahill added that with the limited public gathering spaces, Metro is anticipating more parties at short-term rental properties. She said there has been an uptick in violent parties at these properties and that Metro will have an increased presence seeking out such events on New Year’s Eve.

The public can report short-term rental parties via 311 or, to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.

“It’s very important, especially in light of what we just saw happen in Nashville,” McMahill said. “We’re very focused on keeping people safe.”

Contact Alexis Ford at aford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0335. Follow @alexisdford on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Glenn Puit contributed to this report.

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