LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — New Year’s Eve is just four days away and with ongoing COVID-19 concerns around the country, places like New York City are scaling back their celebrations.
But not Las Vegas — here, festivities will largely stay the same. The performances, parties, and fireworks are still expected to happen on the Strip and downtown.
And even though this is normally the biggest party next to Times Square, it really is not a fair comparison.
“We don’t have a small area where we completely control things,” said Dr. Brian Labus, an infectious disease epidemiologist and professor at UNLV. “It’s the entire city having this party.”
Times Square normally has about 58,000 people for its ball drop party. Now, organizers are limiting capacity to 15,000, planning later entry, and requiring masks and proof of vaccination.
Las Vegas, on the other hand, is currently staying the course of normalcy. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority says it’s not projecting New Year’s Eve visitation or economic impact this year.
“We’ve been dealing with crowds coming to Las Vegas for the past two years,” said Dr. Labus. “So, New Year’s Eve isn’t really anything new. It’s just kind of a bigger event. But it’s still along the same lines of everything we’ve been doing for the last two years.”
The Southern Nevada Health District reports that 68% of the population is at least partially vaccinated.
“But really, if we’re talking about tourists, this is a different issue,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the vaccination rates are in Nevada. We’re talking about the vaccination rates of all the people who are traveling to Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve, which is something we can’t even estimate because they’re coming from all over the world.”
Even though it is outdoors, the CDC recommendation is that you wear a mask in large crowds to lower your risk of infection.
“We are a city based on tourism, so finding a way to deal with tourism is not something we have to think of for New Year’s Eve,” said Dr. Labus. “This is our day-to-day routine.”