On Tuesday, at 12:01 a.m., Clark County, Nevada lifted almost all COVID-related restrictions. This moment marked an end to capacity limits, social distancing rules, and mandatory masks for fully vaccinated people (and people willing to lie about being vaccinated, presumably) in Las Vegas.
It’s been a rough year-and-a-bit for Vegas, both on the Strip and off. Two of the major industries that the area relies on economically—tourism and conventions—were completely decimated by the pandemic. In April of last year, when the hotels and casinos were forced to temporarily close, the unemployment rate hit 34 percent. Though that’s since improved, it remains one of the worst in the U.S.
Walking around the Strip and Fremont Street Tuesday night, things definitely felt different than the last time I visited, at the height of the pandemic. Almost nobody was wearing a mask, the sidewalks were crowded, and huge, tightly packed groups of people were dancing and drinking together.
But it didn’t exactly feel normal. The crowds were lighter than when I’ve visited in pre-pandemic Junes (when I walked past the Denny’s that you can get married in around 8 p.m., there were less than ten customers inside), and some things were either still in a temporary COVID closure, or shuttered for good.
Here are some things I saw walking around Vegas during its first day and night post-restrictions.