The American crowd that swarmed the Las Vegas Strip on its first weekend after reopening had one message: Thanks, Joe!
Over the weekend, thousands of people went to Sin City after Nevada governor Steve Sisolak lifted his state’s stay-at-home order to allow casinos, bars, and restaurants to reopen at 50 percent capacity.
According to the Daily Mail, many people took the opportunity to blow their $1,400 stimulus checks on a weekend of partying, while hotels took the advantage by increasing their rates to pre-pandemic levels.
“People are totally out spending their stimulus checks – the crowds are huge and different than usual,” Ashley Stafford, a restaurant worker from Las Vegas said. “I’m a bit surprised to see this many people given that Covid is still a problem, especially all the people who aren’t wearing masks.”
Mary, 30, from Atlanta, Georgia, was in Vegas to celebrate her friend’s 30th birthday.
“We’re absolutely spending our checks, thanks, Joe!” Mary said. “I love it here, Vegas is something else. I’m not totally surprised by how busy it is because it’s Spring Break and March Madness.”
“I was expecting it to be busy, although maybe not this busy.”
Lucy Perez, 28, from San Diego, was in town with her friends Adriana Quiroz, 24, and Ruby Nonega, 27.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be so busy,” she said. “But now people have got their stimulus checks, they’ve been sitting home for a long time so they want to get out and spend it.”
Las Vegas has been hit hard by the economic fallout from the pandemic and was shut down completely between April and June 2020.
Visitor numbers plunged by 55 percent compared to 2019 as a result while hotels and casinos were forced to lay off record numbers of staff – 373,000 in the first month of shutdown alone, according to tourist board figures.
But the reopening and resulting spike in visitor numbers are giving the city’s hotels and resorts hope for a better 2021.
The workers were breathing a sigh of relief too. Brazilian photo girls Vanessa Leite, 35, and Jessica Gouveia, 29 said: “This weekend has been great. It feels like things are back to normal. It’s so much better than last year.”
According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the huge crowds have also been well-behaved, with the larger numbers have had no impact on crime so far.
“The LVMPD has not experienced any recent criminal issues as it pertains to spring break,” a spokesman told DailyMail. “We ask that everyone abides by our governor’s mandates on mask-wearing and social distancing.”
Last year, Nevada has seen a total of 301,000 Covid cases and has endured 5,174 deaths so far. But cases have been dropping, with just 225 new cases in the past week of which 135 were recorded in Clark County.
While some health restrictions have been relaxed, Nevada is still enforcing a mask mandate – although not everyone is following it.
On Saturday afternoon, a small but noisy anti-mask protest was seen down the Strip, while some people chose to go without.
Most tourists kept their masks on and said wearing them was doing nothing to detract from the fun, although there were a couple of people who didn’t like theirs.