Las Vegas has reopened the doors of its famous casinos Thursday after eleven weeks of closure imposed by the pandemic coronavirus, which has hit a city depending largely on the tourist industry.
Wheels and one-armed bandits are back to life as soon as the twelfth stroke of midnight and hardcore gamers or just curious and are pressed in the game rooms, such as the ” D “, which had offered free plane tickets to several hundreds of american tourists to celebrate the recovery as expected.
“It is hot! You can see the smiles on the faces of all “, was launched to the journalists, the owner of this casino, Derek Stevens. “Everyone is ecstatic “, beamed the boss of the ” D “.
On the famous Las Vegas Strip, practically deserted since mid-march, casinos and hotels have had to wait the rising of the sun to get a little animation. The Bellagio has rekindled its spectacular fountains shortly before the reopening of the casino, in front of which dozens of tourists and locals were queuing up in the early morning.
The recovery of activity is a blessing for Las Vegas, whose economy has been idling for lack of tourism and where the unemployment rate exploded, reaching up to 33.5% in the month of April.
“Just a matter of time”
At the Bellagio, as in the other establishments re-opening their doors to the public, the sanitary measures are strict: the game rooms have reduced their capacity by half and the blackjack tables can accommodate a maximum of three players at once to keep the distance of rigour. Walls of plexiglas separating in addition to the players and the dealers, who handle the chips regularly disinfected.
Despite these precautions, “Vegas is still Vegas,” according to the words of the AFP and the CEO of MGM Resorts, William Hornbuckle.
“With time, we will be back at full capacity “, has launched the boss of the largest operator of casinos in Las Vegas, which has a dozen establishments on the Strip, like the Bellagio, the MGM Grand and New York-New York.
In the immediate term, a slot machine is unplugged to ensure the distancing of physical players, which are “strongly encouraged” to wear a mask even if they are not obliged to it, unlike the staff.
At Treasure Island, a nearby casino, Alecia Perez, 29, is specially come Thursday morning from Los Angeles with his companion and her young child.
“We have an infant, it is one of the reasons why we came now, it was thought that there would not be too much of the world,” she explains to the AFP.
“It’s a different kind of holiday, you are not looking to party “.
The clubs and the spectacular events that have made the fame of Las Vegas are still banned because of the epidemic of COVID-19, and many casinos take the temperature of visitors at the entrance.
“It’s going to be a little scary at the beginning, of course. And I’m not going to make as much money as usual, ” acknowledges Luis Rosales, who is preparing to resume service at the Venetian hotel.
“It will just be a matter of time,” he says, rejoicing at the idea of ” be able to go in bars now, go back to playing, all that we missed “.
In addition to the coronavirus, Las Vegas has also been shaken in recent days by protests against the death of George Floyd and the police brutality. A police officer of the city has been seriously wounded and one protester was shot after raising a weapon to fire in the direction of the police in the course of another incident.