Nevada will no longer have quite as strict of a cap on live event attendance amid the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Steve Sisolak announced Tuesday that the 50-person cap on event attendance would be lifted on October 1.
“This is not the end. This is the first step toward getting us where we need to get back to. We need to get some people back to work,” the Democratic governor told reporters. “I’m confident, under these circumstances we can get them back to work safely.”
Large venues – defined as those able to hold more than 2,500 guests – will be able to allow up to 10 percent of their capacity. Venues smaller than that will be allowed to host up to 50 percent of their capacity up to 250 people. Venues interested in reopening with the new guidelines must submit their safety plans for approval by authorities. The cap removal represents the most significant step in reopening for the state since its June decision to allow casinos to reopen with social distancing and capacity restrictions in place.
The decision follows some high profile departures of live events from the state, with PBR and National Finals Rodeo moving fall events to Texas. Restrictions on fan attendance were at least a part of those decisions, as Texas allows up to 50 percent of a venue capacity for live events. Governor Sisolak made a direct plea for event and convention organizers to keep their events in-state. Conventions and out of state visitors are a huge component of Nevada’s economy, particularly Las Vegas.
“I know you may be considering locations in other states,” he said. “But before you make a decision, understand that Nevada is not only open for business, we plan to be open for the long term.”
Sisolak defended the decision to keep restrictions somewhat tight despite the negative impact they might hold on the event economy, pointing out that states with looser restrictions run the risk of having to close back up if they suffer a spike in cases. Nevada has seen 79,595 cases of COVID-19 according to Worldometers.info tracking. After a July peak that saw more than 1,000 new cases averaged for more than two weeks, the state has seen numbers fall below an average of 500 new cases per day – though they appear to be climbing once more.
Event operators in the state welcomed the ability to put their shows on, though they did stress that it would be difficult to operate without financial losses as many of the smaller venues wouldn’t be able to manage 50 percent capacity while abiding by the social distancing guidelines put in place.
“I’ve spoken with other show producers and venue owners in Las Vegas and most just want to get our talented performers and employees back to work, for their well-being. We know we will lose money, open ourselves up to frivolous litigation, and have to endure criticism from all the haters out there, but we really want to help,” said David Saxe of David Saxe Productions. “No matter what, when we do open up again, the safety measures we put in place will far exceed what is required and we will implement them with a flair befitting the Vegas entertainment industry.”