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Travelers head home after weekend at Las Vegas casinos

Updated June 7, 2020 - 8:02 pm

Visitors were facing no major travel problems as they headed home Sunday evening from Las Vegas after the first weekend with casinos open since the COVID-19-spurred shutdown in March.

McCarran International Airport was fairly quiet, and, while traffic at times was moving slowly, there appeared to be no apparent major traffic incidents on area interstate highways.

On Sunday, the airport wrote on its Twitter page: “As this #BackToVegas weekend comes to a close, many visitors will be headed to the airport. Give yourself plenty of time and space (six feet!) and pack your patience. As we adjust to a new normal, wait times may be longer than you’re used to seeing at LAS.”

Just after 3 p.m. Sunday, there were no waits at ticketing counters or at security in Terminal 3. Starbucks and Hudson News were closed, and the short-term parking garage had many open parking spots. A prerecorded message played periodically in the terminal with public health reminders, such as to maintain social distancing and wear a face mask.

Corrie and Stephanie Byrd were rearranging their luggage before heading through airport security. They arrived Friday in Las Vegas to celebrate Corrie’s birthday. They’re from east Texas, but Stephanie Byrd is on a traveling assignment as a registered nurse in northern Wisconsin.

Corrie Byrd said it’s the third or fourth time in recent years they’ve visited Las Vegas. This time, they stayed at The Venetian.

Stephanie Byrd said that it was a good experience and she had no complaints. “Overall, it was still fun Vegas for us.”

“The crowd was a little lighter than normal” in Las Vegas, and there was also a different vibe at the Fremont Street Experience than their past visits, Corrie Byrd said.

He said he felt safety protocols went “a little above and beyond” and there were efforts — such as thermal temperature checks — at every casino they visited.

Also on Sunday at McCarran, four cousins were heading home to Northern California after a family trip, which included stops in Las Vegas and Utah.

“We’ve been waiting to go to Vegas together for a long time,” Alina Castillo said.

They were in Las Vegas early last week before casinos reopened, and it was like a “ghost town,” Castillo said.

They continued their travels and returned to Las Vegas again — this time, over the weekend after casinos had reopened. “I’m glad they’re (reopened),” Ariel Velebit said.

Castillo noted the huge extreme between the two visits within the same week. She said she’s happy casinos are taking precautions such as offering face masks to visitors and having hand sanitizer available.

Louisiana resident Teleise Mitchell and her three children were waiting in Terminal 3 near the ticketing counters after missing a flight. They flew into Las Vegas about a week ago and then drove to the Santa Clarita, California, area to celebrate Mitchell’s brother’s high school graduation.

They didn’t spend any time in Las Vegas beyond flying into McCarran International Airport. “Right now, it’s just empty,” Mitchell said about airport activity.

She said she decided to fly into Las Vegas to bypass a 14-day self-quarantine order in Texas while traveling. That order since has been lifted.

Across the Las Vegas Valley, traffic appeared to be moving slowly Sunday afternoon on Interstate 15 in Jean near the Nevada-California state line, live online traffic camera footage showed.

A state road hazards website showed a report at 3:20 p.m. of debris on I-15 in Jean, saying travel delays were possible. Just before 5 p.m., it was no longer listed as a current incident.

The Nevada Highway Patrol didn’t respond to a request for information by deadline Sunday.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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