LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — We will soon start seeing a little more activity on the Las Vegas Strip, as entertainment options expand.
Loosening COVID-19 capacity restrictions means some shows and nightlife options are coming back. Experts say this is a good sign, especially as Las Vegas continues to reel from the economic impact of the coronavirus.
Analysts say closures on the Strip have cost Vegas tens of billions of dollars over the past year.
“I will comb my hair the night of the show, I promise,” said Las Vegas comedian and entertainer Carrot Top.
Carrot Top is fine-tuning his funny bone. After being closed for almost one year due to COVID-19, his show at the Luxor returns this weekend. But there will be a smaller audience.
“I’m going to have more jokes than people,” Carrot Top said.
Updated guidance caps public gatherings in Nevada at 100 people, or 35% capacity, whichever is lower.
In any case, Carrot Top cannot wait.
“Being on stage is what we feed off of,” he said. “The energy the crowd gives you — I leave with the same kind of high that the audience leaves with every night.”
MGM Resorts International also announced that Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club, which was open in a smaller venue to seat 50 people, will now move upstairs at the MGM Grand to the studio ballroom, across from Grand Garden Arena. It will seat 100 people. That starts Thursday, Feb. 18.
Thunder Down Under at Excalibur is also expanding from 50 to 100 seats. The show “Fantasy” will reopen Friday, Feb. 19, at the Luxor and seat 100 people.
On the social scene, Hakkasan Group announced it is set to reopen a handful of options. According to a press release, the OMNIA nightclub at Caesars Palace “will resume operations of the terrace area of the venue as a lounge” on March 5. OMNIA Las Vegas will be open Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30 p.m. until late.
Hakkasan Group also says the Wet Republic Ultra Pool at MGM Grand and the Liquid Pool Lounge at ARIA will also reopen in March. Health and safety protocols will be put in place, including touchless menu systems, social distancing and rigorous cleaning plans.
“I think it’s about rebuilding,” said Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst at Applied Analysis.
Aguero, an expert on Las Vegas hospitality and tourism, says that with entertainment and nightlife starting back up, the Vegas economy will start to turn a corner.
But it will still be a process.
“It’s not going to be uniform,” Aguero said. “It’s not going to be symmetrical. Certain things are going to open. There may even be some trial and failure that takes place, but what’s critically important is that things are opening.”
Aguero expects more people to visit Las Vegas over the summer, and he also expects some conventions to return by the fall. He notes that this all ultimately depends on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Carrot Top is thrilled to be having an in-person audience again and is looking forward to entertaining even more people in the future. He remains confident that Vegas can beat this virus.
“We’re going to tackle it; we’re going to do it,” Carrot Top encouraged.
On March 15, capacity for most businesses and activities is set to increase to 50%.
So, this is the big question: when will things get back to normal? Aguero says he still does not expect that to happen for another 12 to 18 months — and maybe even longer than that.