Las Vegas is ready to roll normal before the pandemic

“This is more of a historic night in the history of Las Vegas,” a spokesman said over a loudspeaker to a largely unmasked crowd.

And moments later, the crowd moved to a version of a Foo Fighters song by a Las Vegas band, the first live music there in more than a year: “In times like these, you learn to live again,” the band sang.

Companies can now be open at full capacity without restrictions from Covid-19.

It was also their first vacation in over a year for some of the people CNN spoke to.

“It’s really exciting,” said Pam Turner, from Shelby, North Carolina, who attended. “It feels great,” she said of her first outing since the pandemic began.

“You just have to see it to believe it,” said Turner’s mother Diana Rollins. “It’s just so fun to see all of these people doing their thing.”

Since vaccinations are pushing back new Covid-19 infections, the city is betting that people stick to the rules and wear masks and keep their distance if they are not vaccinated.

After the opening ceremony on Monday night, casinos across town began removing Plexiglas partitions that kept guests at slot machines and other gaming stations separate.

The vaccines definitely give the city, which is largely dependent on tourism, a much-needed economic shot in the arm. The unemployment rate in Las Vegas rose to 34% in April 2020, one of the worst rates in the country, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Las Vegas was more difficult than any other city in the United States,” said Steve Hill, president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

According to CEO George Markantonis, the Venetian Resort has sold out for the last seven months of this year.

“We have normal business that we would have from the middle of the year to the end of the year before the pandemic,” said the CEO.

Hotels are now 80% full on the weekends and around 50% on other days, Hill said.

“We need meetings and conventions to come back to improve the 50%,” he said.

Next week, LVCVA will debut its nearly $ 1 billion expansion to the city’s convention center when it hosts the country’s first major trade show since the pandemic began.

With tens of thousands of people attending, it will be “the first event we call a citywide event to be held in the United States,” Hill said.

The Las Vegas reopening is just one of many signs that Americans are feeling like they’re looking at the pandemic through a rearview mirror. U.S. airports were the busiest in more than a year on Memorial Day weekend, according to the U.S. Transportation Safety Agency.

Visitors to the Fountains of Bellagio on Monday in Las Vegas.

The Indianapolis 500 last Sunday was billed as the most-attended sporting event since the pandemic began. The 135,000 tickets available – about 40% of the capacity of the Indiana racetrack – sold out quickly, according to the organizers.

People flocked to beaches and restaurants on the long weekend, and moviegoers seemed to be venturing back into the cinemas. A Quiet Place Part II, a horror film, had the largest opening weekend of the pandemic to date, grossing $ 48.3 million for its three-day opening over Memorial Day weekend in North America.

However, experts fear that not everyone obeys the rules of wearing a mask and social distance if they are not vaccinated.

“The challenge is getting people to actually wear their masks when they haven’t been vaccinated,” said Dr. Brian Labus, University of Nevada Las Vegas Public Health. “It’s in the honor system and we have a lot of people coming into town on their first vacation in a year and a half.”

“Any time you bring large groups of people together, there is a potential for disease transmission,” said Labus. If you add that in addition to behaviors that are probably not best for people’s health, disease control is a challenge on vacation and at parties.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 41% of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated and more than 50% had at least one dose by Sunday. But percentages vary widely across the country, with the southern and most western states lagging behind the northeast and west coasts, and Nevada lagging behind California in the west and Oregon and Washington in the north.

According to a study in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, lifting precautions against the coronavirus could lead to an increase in the spread of the virus even if the majority of the population is vaccinated.

Using a mathematical model to simulate the spread of the virus among the roughly 10 million people in North Carolina, researchers found that coronavirus infections, hospital stays and deaths would continue to increase if pandemic precautions such as quarantine, school closings, social distancing and wearing masks were lifted while vaccines were being rolled out.

CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Pete Muntean and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

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