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Visiting Vegas amid the coronavirus pandemic

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Posted at 9:35 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-15 13:07:03-04

A weekend getaway may sound like an inviting idea, and one big hotspot that is popular with Arizona residents is Las Vegas. What does a trip to the Vegas casinos look like amid a pandemic? One Phoenix woman who just returned from a weekend trip says, don't expect things to be "business as usual."

Lori Bodamer described her experience to Vegas as just "weird."

"Weird is the best word. It is like even though you knew in your mind, it was going to be different, but it was just so different," said Bodamer.

She did expect to see social distancing measures and mask mandates in place, even some of the statues were donning masks. But, Bodamer quickly learned, hotel staff meant business when it came to enforcing the mask mandates.

"There is no forgiveness on the mask thing. I heard a lot, 'if your nose shows, then we close,'" said Bodamer.

This was true even while on the casino floors, while she was enjoying a cocktail.

"So I was drinking, and I put my glass down, and a guy must have seen me on camera because he comes over and he said, 'sorry I need to ask you to put your mask on,' and I said 'even with my drink?' He said 'yeah, even between sips,' so they are watching," said Bodamer.

Safety shields are separating casino dealers from customers. Even those watching you play are asked to stand six feet away. Bodamer said cocktail waitresses were playing the role of both server and bartender, as they had to pour their own drinks.

While dining at a different establishment, Bodamer said their waiter actually thanked them for having a good attitude. He said many customers were frustrated with the mask mandates, and were taking it out on staff by being rude, or not giving them a tip.

A cocktail waitress at one of the casinos told Bodamer that about 80 percent of customers were not giving them a tip.

"He said thank you for being so nice, people have been very unkind and that we were his first nice table in over two weeks," said Bodamer.

For those expecting to hit up a Vegas buffet or catch a show, Bodamer said both seemed to be closed.

"There were no shows, we saw no entertainment at all," said Bodamer. The family did get to enjoy watching the fountains at the Bellagio, and they said the zip lines were open, along with the giant observation wheel called the High Roller. Bodamer said she saw workers sanitizing the wheel bays, but surprisingly she did not see anyone sanitizing the casino machines in between customers.

If you're planning to spend the day at the pool, Bodamer said masks were required even while lounging around the pool, but not when you were in the water.

"Also, your choices are, buy a Cabana for the day for $350 or put your name on a list and they'll call you when there's room at the pool," said Bodamer.

When asked how crowded the hotels were, Bodamer said it appeared they were operating at half capacity, but she was also surprised to find only a few elevators open to carry guests to their hotel rooms. One of the most frustrating parts of the visit was waiting in lines to get into an elevator.

"I mean sometimes they were 20, 30-minute long lines, and I mean lines," said Bodamer.

Many hotels are taking guest's temperatures when you walk in. Mobile check-in is encouraged, and Bodamer said don't expect housekeeping to clean your room, unless you specifically ask for it.

Despite all the new rules, "I'm a glass half full person, I am going to find the fun. I am going to have a good time," said Bodamer, even under unusual circumstances.

If you are planning a trip to Las Vegas, make sure to check to see what is open, and if the places you want to visit are open before planning your trip, she advised.