The Las Vegas Strip is slowly awakening after a nearly 80-day slumber due to the coronavirus crisis.


LAS VEGAS – Nevada has rolled back COVID-19 restrictions to allow the return of large meetings and conventions to The Strip.

But they’ll look much different to seasoned convention-goers with new restrictions, including on size of the gathering, reports the Reno Gazette Journal, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.

On Tuesday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced get-togethers of up to 250 people as well as many live entertainment events, trade shows, concerts and conventions — hallmarks of Las Vegas tourism — can resume under strict rules.

Here’s a look at what the directive means for attendees and events planners:

A 250 limit – unless plan is submitted for 1,000

Nevada venues will now be able to host conventions, conferences and trade shows with a capacity of 250, but that limit does not include employees, organizers and performers. 

Venues can have events with 1,000 guests if these requirements are met:

  • The venue can separate the event’s guests into separate rooms that hold no more than 250 people or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less.
  • Venue employees and staff must be restricted to working no more than one area during the event.
  • Each area must have floor to ceiling walls.
  • Each area should have separate entrances and exits to avoid spaces being shared.
  • All guest must be pre-registered.
  • Shared use of restroom facilities, concessions, merchandizing and amenities should be minimized to avoid use by guests in other groups.
  • Submit a “Large Gathering Venue COVID-19 Preparedness & Safety Plan” to local health authorities for review and confirmation that the plan meets standards.

Convention guests will have to follow other COVID-19 regulations already in place across Nevada, such as wearing face mask, keeping six feet apart and undergoing temperature checks.

Read the full directive: 

‘Fuel that keeps the engine running’

Sisolak made a direct appeal to the businesses, conventioneers and every other type of tourist that keeps the state’s economy running:

“I assure you, today is only the first step in getting back to our new normal,” Sisolak told reporters Tuesday. “As you plan your next corporate meeting or convention, I know you may be considering locations in other states that have recently announced a complete lifting of all restrictions.”

The new directive will stimulate the state’s economy, where conventions, conferences and trade shows were the sole source of income for thousands of Nevada workers, the governor said.

“The four miles down Las Vegas Boulevard – The Strip – is the fuel that keeps the engine of this state running,” Sisolak said, “and we’re doing what we can to provide a safe environment to protect our residents and at the same time allow the economy to begin to reopen.” 

Governor Steve Sisolak during a press conference on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020 in the former Assembly chambers inside the Capital in Carson City. (Photo: PROVIDED/Pool Photo by David Calvert/Nevada Independent)

More: Reno jobless rate is half that of Las Vegas as diversification pays off against COVID-19

MGM Resorts rolls out convention plan

Hours before Sisolak’s announcement, MGM Resorts unveiled a plan for resuming conventions.

The resort giant is calling the plan “Convene With Confidence” – and it will fundamentally change the convention experience on The Strip.

Here’s a look at MGM’s new meeting and convention rules:

The Las Vegas Convention Central Hall was a buzz of activity as work crews finished up construction of displays in preparation for Consumer Electronics Show 2019. (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY)

No more crowded booths

Convention-goers can expect similar social distancing requirements launched at all properties along The Strip.

Throughout convention spaces will be signs reminding guests and employees to keep six feet between themselves and others.

MGM staff will be on hand to help exhibitors with giveaways to prevent large groups from gathering at booths.

At all registration desks and food areas where social distancing is challenging, guests will find transparent barriers.


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No more than two people at 6-foot tables

Floor plans and capacities will be adjusted to meet government guidelines.

A max of two people will be allowed at a six-foot table with six feet of distance between the chair front and back. Aisles between tables will be eight feet.

Inside theaters, one chair can be open every 22 inches – as long as there is six feet of space between the front and back of the chair.


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Less movement between sessions

MGM Resorts will insist that guests stay in the same area throughout the convention.

“Our staff can assist with helping moving speakers instead of guests for breakouts or asking guests to sit in the same location at each session,” the company said in its plan.

No more piles of notepads, pens, candies

Before COVID-19, there was no shortage of writing instruments and paper products around convention halls for the picking.

MGM’s new convention plan puts an end to that. 

Multi-use items like notepads and pens are no longer allowed to be placed. For a fee, individual amenity bags will be available at registration with the following items inside:

  • Bottled water (2)
  • Candies
  • Pad
  • Pen


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No more buffet-style meals, water pitchers

In place of traditional buffets, MGM property conventions will have “marketplace-style” service, meaning guests will be served covered “micro-plates” and pre-packaged items.

There will no longer be water pitchers or dispensers in meeting rooms. Water stations alongside attendants will be available upon request.

Plastic and aluminum single use water bottles will be available.

At plated events, tables will be 9 feet apart, only rolled silverware will be use and no communal items will be preset.

Staffers will pour all beverages tableside and take all food waste and used napkins to the back of the house.

Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. 


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