Some Las Vegas conventions may go maskless

Some Las Vegas conventions may go maskless
The interactive digital screen inside the West Hall expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Photo: Business Wire)

CARSON CITY—Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday added another exception to the state’s indoor mask requirements, permitting some large conventions to drop the requirement in exchange for only admitting fully-vaccinated attendees.

Emergency Directive 50 applies to conventions with 4,000 attendees or greater and comes with a host of requirements. It primarily impacts Las Vegas, one of the top-ranked convention cities both domestically and internationally and home to one of the largest convention centers in the country. The Las Vegas Convention Center in April unveiled a 1.4 million square foot expansion.

Reno, also a convention destination, doesn’t have any conventions of that size on the books for the remainder of the year, according to a spokesperson for the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.

The governor’s office made clear that the new directive isn’t a vaccine mandate.

“This is not a requirement to show proof of vaccination to attend a convention,” the governor’s office wrote in a statement announcing the new directive. “It is an optional exception to the mask requirement if the convention operator chooses to require proof of vaccination for all attendees.”

Convention bookings in Las Vegas have yet to pick up as the Delta variant continues to spread within the community. Clark County, along with more than a dozen other Nevada counties, remains in the “high” level for COVID-19 risk and masking is required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

New cases of COVID-19 in Clark County tally more than 500 per day on a 14-day moving average and the test positivity rate is 10.8%. A little more than 51% of Clark County’s eligible population has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Under the new directive, convention operators can eliminate the masking requirement for attendees if they meet all of the following conditions:

  • The convention will have 4,000 attendees or greater
  • The convention is for a discrete period of time
  • The convention requires pre-registration
  • The convention is open only to those who have successfully completed pre-registration
  • The event operator maintains access control that effectively prevents unregistered or otherwise unauthorized persons from entering or attending the convention or any part thereof; and,
  • The event operator requires proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination for every attendee at that event. If someone fails to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, they MUST NOT be admitted.
  • Additionally, convention operators MUST implement a method of verifying vaccination status that is accurate, effective and reliable. Staff must be sufficient in number and adequately trained to implement the system.

Individuals who are only partially vaccinated for COVID-19 (e.g. have only received one dose of vaccine) can still attend a convention that meets the above guidelines, however they must continue to wear a mask during the event. Convention organizers must also have a system to distinguish fully vaccinated attendees from those who are only partially vaccinated or ineligible to receive the vaccine and enforce the masking requirement for those individuals throughout the event.

More detailed guidance is available here.