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Biggest Meeting Destinations Adapt to Reopen

Las Vegas and Orlando venues rely on temperature monitoring and restricted capacity, among other safety measures, for soft reopening.

Two top meeting destinations in the U.S. have announced the reopening of hotels and venues in the next few weeks.

Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas, Nev., are listed in the top five cities for meetings and events by both Cvent and American Express Global Business Travel, and hospitality companies and venues, after assessing the impact of smaller openings this month, are beginning to allow gatherings of larger groups of people.

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will resume business on July 11, followed by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15. This follows the May 20 opening of the entertainment and shopping complex Disney Springs where the company successfully trialed new safety and hygiene procedures such as distributing masks to visitors and not accepting cash. The parks’ new protocols will include temperature checks and compulsory face coverings for guests, reduced capacity, and cast members assigned to help visitors maintain social distancing. Initially, visitors with annual passes and existing tickets will be given priority for reservations at the parks. The company is planning to reopen some of its 18 area resort hotels in July, and its timeshare properties at Disney Vacation Club at the end of June.

Also in Orlando, after a false start, the Orange County Convention Center will host a large sporting event from July 14 to 26.

In Las Vegas, phase two of the Roadmap to Recovery begins May 29, which allows gatherings of up to 50 people observing social distancing guidelines and reopens movie theaters, bowling alleys, fitness centers, and spas. Hotels and casinos will be allowed to reopen on June 4, with a variety of new health policies in place. New York-New York, the MGM Grand and Caesars Palace will be among the first hotels to open.  Two MGM resorts, Bellagio and MGM will open with handwashing stations with soap and water in addition to hand sanitizers, and the Wynn and Encore will introduce thermal imaging cameras at every entrance to spot visitors with high temperatures.

All hotel and casino staff will be required to wear masks, and masks will be made available to guests who will be encouraged to wear them. While resorts and casinos are working on providing temperature checks at check in and safe areas for guest COVID-19 testing, at least one new policy will be more convenient for Las Vegas visitor: free casino parking has been reintroduced to in discourage crowded transportation. The plan is for those resorts opening on June 4 to restrict reservations to 50 percent of normal capacity to allow for social distancing at restaurants and other amenities.

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