Reduced COVID cases, increases in vaccination numbers and the relaxation of restrictions are producing greater optimism that visitors will have fun in Las Vegas.
It wasn’t exactly the pressed-flesh bacchanal that came to define pool parties in the pre-COVID Before Times. Still, the images out of Circa’s Stadium Swim pool complex were striking. Depending on your comfort level, alarming even.
Hundreds of partygoers soaked up the sun and the opening games of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament — with few attempts at social distancing and even fewer masks — at Stadium Swim as the first weekend of spring helped usher in Las Vegas’ push for a return to normalcy.
Combine March Madness and spring break, some stragglers who turned St. Patrick’s Day into a weekend and an increase to 50 percent capacity at most venues as more and more people are vaccinated, and the past few days have been a perfect storm of promise for Las Vegas’ recovery.
Visitors slammed shots at a pop-up bar near the baggage claim at McCarran International Airport. Tourists clutched Versace shopping bags on the Strip. The Fremont Street Experience was packed once again.
“This is a dream come true,” one fan said of watching the games unfold at the Westgate sportsbook.
That’s a sentiment that’s no doubt being echoed throughout the valley’s beleaguered hospitality industry — even though it’s only one weekend.
So far, anyway.
Fremont Street Experience was lively and packed on Friday night, with masks seemingly optional for most people despite a sign saying they’re required.
It was a pandemic Friday night on the Strip, the first since casino capacity limits lifted from 35 percent to 50 percent.
The large black Versace shopping bag held by Leo Williams was a sign the California resident started his vacation on the Strip on Friday evening.
The roars weren’t as loud as in years past, but even a half-capacity crowd at the Westgate sportsbook created a lively atmosphere on the first day of the NCAA Tournament.
A few thousand visitors dived into March Madness in the Stadium Swim area inside the Circa in downtown Las Vegas on Friday.
One year ago today, Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered the closure of nonessential businesses. Now, a once-empty Las Vegas Strip is seeing signs of a returning economy.