The tangible proof is not in the numbers – neither the Automobile Association of America nor the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority predicted holiday travel numbers this year due to the coronavirus pandemic – but the anecdotal evidence was there.
Las Vegas got a nice bump in the number of tourists for the Labor Day weekend.
According to both Fox5 Vegas and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, people jammed the Strip on Friday and Saturday nights in a last summer fling (although with temperatures hitting 114 degrees at one point over the weekend, it didn’t look like summer was rushing out the door in Nevada).
Las Vegas had been struggling since reopening in early June, and air travel has been dramatically down. But as Fox5 noted, a combination of factors helped the city see an increase – closures and restrictions in nearby California, the ability to easily drive from Arizona, Utah and California and inexpensive gas prices.
But the Review-Journal said the increase in crowds brings an increase in concern about the spread of the coronavirus. Very few people were observed wearing masks over the weekend, and proximity between people was far less than six feet.
Terri Clark of San Tan Valley, Arizona, was wearing a mask while visiting the Strip for the first time but was surprised by the crowds, she told the newspaper.
“I was expecting there to be way fewer people,” Clark said. “And I’m amazed at how many people are completely disregarding the masks and social distancing. I wear my mask everywhere, I social distance and I have like five bottles of hand sanitizer in my purse. I’m just shocked to see how many people aren’t taking it seriously.”
Brian Labus, an epidemiologist and assistant professor of public health at UNLV, said the close proximity of the people and the lack of masks in tourist hot spots is concerning.
“I’m not surprised to hear there are large crowds on the Strip and social distancing really isn’t being followed as well as it should,” Labus said. “Anytime you see crowds of people together that aren’t paying attention to the outbreak, I’m definitely going to be concerned. It is a situation where disease can spread, and that is the exact opposite of what we want to happen.”
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