What to Avoid in Vegas

Vacation in the USA - Should Las Vegas reopen - and what would be left?

81-year-old Mayor Carolyn Goodman would love to turn all the city lights back on right away. But the people who work there are now fighting back.

Jürgen Schmieder, Los Angeles

There are only two reactions to this unique sight, and they could hardly be more different: Those who drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas (only amateurs fly to this sinful city) experience four hours of wasteland. Between Barstow and Zzyzx there is a 90-kilometer section that leads straight through the desert. It couldn't be more boring; But then, you should always arrive shortly after sunset in Vegas, a blob of light can be seen in the darkness, which is getting bigger and bigger and magically attracts you.

One reaction: complete enthusiasm for this crazy place in the desert. The other: absolute contempt for this city, which should never have existed.

What's happening in Vegas

And now, with the coronavirus pandemic and the cautious easing, it is really being made clear that the people in Las Vegas are mostly doing what people shouldn't be doing right now. They celebrate together in a confined space, half-naked at pool parties. You touch things like chips, cash or buttons on the machines that thousands of other guests had previously touched. They drink from glasses that dozens of other tourists used that day alone. And, that is also part of Vegas: You spend nights with strangers who disappear the next day in a different direction.

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is always the motto, but connoisseurs have long since converted this legendary sentence into: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas - except for contagious diseases, you take them home with you.

In the current situation, this leads to the question: Can you, no, can you open this city to tourists? Also in the knowledge of the risk that guests could possibly transport the corona virus to numerous cities, even countries?

Trump is a sensible politician compared to Goodman

Yes, say those responsible, and they even produced a commercial for it, which is now shown nationwide. The 30-second film is called “Reimagined”. First of all, the typical Vegas images are shown: the water fountains in front of the Bellagio, the Ferris wheel in front of the Linq, the canals in the Venetian. “A new Vegas for a new reality”, you can hear, a young couple swims alone in the pool, walks alone in front of the fountains, walks alone in the nearby Grand Canyon: “Whoever has always dreamed of a Las Vegas just for himself : It is here. Things will be a little different than they used to be. "

Some restaurants are currently open again, but no nightclubs, hotels and casinos. The earliest reservations are possible from May 29th, at the beginning of June things should finally get going again, with a few restrictions.

Only half of the people should be allowed in the casinos, at blackjack tables three instead of the usual six players and no spectators behind them. Croupiers wear gloves and offer guests to disinfect their hands after each game. Plexiglass walls are set up everywhere, between the one-armed bandits, for example, of which only every second is supposed to be in operation. The buffets, these unique gluttonies in every hotel, should no longer exist.

Open up at any cost

It sounds pretty simple, and that is exactly what Mayor Carolyn Goodman is aiming for. She would like to turn on all the lights in this city again immediately, without the annoying restrictions, and it is not an exaggeration to say that US President Donald Trump comes across as a cautious and even sensible politician compared to Goodman.

Three weeks ago, Goodman appeared on the CNN TV station and pondered the fact that Las Vegas could be a kind of test laboratory as to whether the keeping distance actually works: "How should we know if there is no comparison?"

Open at all costs, that is the motto of Goodman, 81.She has been mayor for nine years, her predecessor in the twelve years before: husband Oscar, who looked after shady but powerful people like Tony Spilotro or Frank Rosenthal before his political career - his autobiography translates as: from mafia lawyer to mayor.

"Go back to work - or die trying."

The Goodmans do not belong to any party, many of their decisions are based on making this blob of light in the desert shine a little brighter. It is said that they prefer to take care of the owners of the more than 400 casinos and less of the numerous people who work there.

The people who work there are now defending themselves: On the wall of the Majestic Repertory Theater in the city center there is a larger than life painting of the two of them, their faces have been covered with masks for a few days. It says what people think the mayor wants from them: "Go back to work - or die trying."

If you walk away from the two Disneyland adult areas Downtown and Strip (which no tourist should do), you will see that not only magicians, singers and dancers live in Las Vegas, but also cleaners, service staff and technicians.

Sworn community, no guinea pigs

They keep this town going and they take care of each other; it is said that someone could survive without money because of the favors for one another (free tickets, drinks, access to the buffets).

It's a close knit community that doesn't want to be a guinea pig in Goodman's experiment. "Of course I can sterilize the chips, they are like new afterwards," says Clay Dubois, boss and only employee of the chip cleaner Elite Chip Care: "But if someone sneezes on them afterwards, they are contaminated again."

The poker pro Doug Polk wants to initiate impeachment proceedings against Goodman, he is currently collecting signatures. He needs almost 7000, not really a lot, but they have to be written on paper with fountain pen.

Professional gamer takes on the mayor

Polk is now appearing everywhere to promote his initiative, and of course this is a story that can only happen in Las Vegas: professional gamer takes on the mayor, who is married to the lawyer who appears in the film «Casino “Acted himself and defended the villains portrayed by Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro in real life. This is old Las Vegas that inspires some and repels all others.

But that is exactly where the problem of reopening this city lies. How much will Las Vegas be left?

Residents who have lived there since they were born now say that they have only left their city in this depressed state once: on the day after the 2017 massacre, in which 59 people died. At that time it went on the evening after as if nothing had happened. This may not work now, because swimming alone in the pool, hiking alone - you can do that elsewhere.

Every Plexiglas wall, every disinfectant, every sterilized chip is basically a reminder that the crisis is far from over and that a real Las Vegas party is not yet possible.

Most people don't come to Las Vegas to be remembered, though. You come there to forget.

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