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Launched by Covid-19, Las Vegas bets all chips on reopening

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Launched by Covid-19, Las Vegas bets all chips on reopening

Completely deserted since March, when an official quarantine was enacted, Las Vegas, Nevada, begins its first steps towards reopening. Last Monday the 18th, the local tourism agency launched the campaign “What happens in Vegas”, in which it intends to convince tourists around the world to return to their casinos (watch below).

"The world has changed, just like Las Vegas," says the video's opening excerpt. "Things will be a little different when we open again – at least for a while," says an excerpt from the commercial. "But we are working to make the experience more intimate, with more space and the excitement you expect".

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The deflation began on May 9, when non-essential trade, such as shops and restaurants, was reopened. Large casinos, such as MGM and Bellagio, however, should not receive tourists again until June 1st.

Another pillar of entertainment that moves Las Vegas, the shows will return even later, at least on June 30. Large companies, such as Cirque du Soleil, have announced that the audience will have reduced audience capacity. The famous pool parties are still banned, with no date to return.

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The 400 local casinos promise tough measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In gaming areas, for example, occupancy limits will be halved. Groups of groups will be banned and employees who distribute cards and letters to regulars will have to disinfect their hand with each new interaction.

This week, a motorcade with 10,000 local workers toured the city in celebration. Among the automobiles there were banners on which tourists were asked to trust. “Transparency = security” and “we don't play with luck when it comes to life”, were some of the messages displayed.

“We don't know what the new normal will look like. But it certainly won't be the same as in the past, when casinos operated on weekends with 90% occupancy, ”says John Restrepo, from RCG Economics, a city-based consultancy.

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The problem, according to experts, is that the state started its deflation without having eliminated the infections. With 7,000 confirmed cases and 350 deaths, Nevada still records about 50 new infections daily. This raises the fear that the resumption of activities will lead to a possible second wave. Analysts also say that the number of tests carried out there is low.

Next to Orlando, Florida, where Disney and Universal parks are located, Las Vegas had its economy devastated by the new coronavirus. One third of all jobs depend on the tourism and entertainment industry. According to official figures, unemployment rose from 4% in February to a staggering 25% today.

Las Vegas has 150,000 hotel rooms (for comparison, New York has 107,000 and London 140,000). The average occupancy, which is usually around 90%, has plummeted to less than 5% in the last eight weeks.

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Of the 60,000 affiliated to the food workers union, 98% reported having lost their jobs during confinement. And about 14% of Nevada's three million people reported not having even the money to buy food.

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Faced with such a frightening picture, Las Vegas hopes that the days of hedonism and gambling will once again mobilize the imagination (and the pocket) of tourists from all over the world.

Ghost town: one in three jobs should disappear Playback / Instagram

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