The ways in which we gather have changed since the outbreak of COVID-19. With scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicting pandemic fallout through 2021, it’s important to take precautions for everyone’s safety while traveling to and attending Summit.
WATCH NOW: In-Person Safety Precautions with Phil Riggs | AED 2021 Summit
First of all, if you’re ill, if you’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 in the 14 days before traveling, or if you’re in a high-risk category (or live with someone who is), it’s best to stay home. Las Vegas may be a place for gambling, but not with your health. According to the CDC, “travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.”
If you pass the first hurdle, travel wisely by taking steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. The CDC strongly urges everyone to wear a cloth mask that covers your mouth and nose when using all forms of public transportation, from taxis to trains to planes.
Additional steps to take:
- Wash your hands often, especially before eating and after coughing, sneezing or using the bathroom.
- Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you’re unable to wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from others.
- Limit contact with frequently touched surfaces like handrails and elevator buttons.
- Avoid contact with anyone who is ill.
Car travel may be the most controllable atmosphere, but the Mayo Clinic offers some suggestions if you’re driving:
- Make as few stops as possible.
- Pack cloth face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
- Take food and water in case dining options are limited; use drive-through instead of dine-in where available.
- Wipe down handles and touchpads at the gas station.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds once you reach your destination.
Airport departure and arrival
Air is filtered on airplanes, preventing the easy spread of viruses. However, social distancing often isn’t possible on an airplane, so it’s essential to follow guidelines from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Per mandate by Nevada’s governor, all travelers at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas are required to wear a face-covering over their mouths and noses. Only ticketed travelers and employees are allowed in the terminals. Signs and announcements provide reminders to stay 6 feet apart.
The airport has implemented other practices to help travelers and employees remain safe, such as using a hospital-grade disinfectant on surfaces like kiosks, escalators and door handles, locating hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the building; and cleaning inter-terminal shuttles between each trip and limiting capacity on buses. Some facilities have been temporarily closed, including certain lounge areas, viewing areas, children’s play areas and some gates. Valet parking is limited, as are dining and shopping options.
To minimize face-to-face contact, airport officials recommend using online check-in and a mobile boarding pass, bringing carry-on luggage only and packing hand sanitizer.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has implemented enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures for equipment at screening checkpoints, and officers change gloves after each pat-down.
Other changes in the screening procedure:
- Placing boarding passes on the scanner and holding them up for inspection instead of handing them to TSA officers
- Allowance of one container of hand sanitizer of up to 12 ounces
- Food items, keys, wallets, phones and other personal items should be carried in a plastic bag and placed in a bin for screening, rather than left in carry-on luggage, to reduce handling
Many of the same rules apply wherever you go in Nevada: face coverings, physical distancing and hand washing. MGM has implemented a seven-point safety plan to protect guests and employees. It begins with screening, temperature checks and employee training on health and safety protocols. While MGM asks symptomatic guests to stay home, they have medical personnel on staff to assist if someone becomes ill during their stay.
Guests are required to wear masks indoors in public spaces and outdoors, even on the pool deck. Employees will wear masks and gloves to protect guests.
Reminders to keep a distance of 6 feet are ubiquitous, but in areas where that’s not possible, MGM has installed plexiglass barriers, and staff wear face shields for additional protection.
Custom-built handwashing stations and hand sanitizer are easily accessible throughout the property. Staff have implemented stricter cleaning protocols focusing on frequently touched surfaces and common areas, using cleaning products that meet EPA guidelines. The resort has also upgraded its HVAC controls to improve air quality by introducing as much outside air circulation as possible.
If a guest or employee tests positive for the virus, protocols will be activated quickly to minimize the spread and to sanitize exposed areas thoroughly.
Contactless options are abundant at MGM. Guests can complete the check-in process themselves, eliminating the need to wait in line through digital, mobile check-in. Digital keys allow guests to substitute their phone for a combination or key, which minimizes contact with high-touch areas and eliminates key loss. The MGM Resorts Mobile App also permits guests to make restaurant reservations or buy tickets to a show.
What happens in Vegas…
During the convention itself, there are protocols to follow. Stephanie Glanzer, senior vice president and chief sales officer for MGM Resorts International, explains about the expansion of their companywide Seven-Point Health and Safety Plan: “We’ve developed a program specifically for groups, called Convene with Confidence. The program represents everything we’ve learned about health and safety, with an increasing focus on utilizing technology and innovation not only to provide a better guest experience, but a safer one as well.”
Convene with Confidence features detailed protocols to incorporate health and safety into every aspect of the convention and meeting process, such as virtual site inspections, creative catering options and venue arrangements that meet all physical distancing requirements.
“We partnered with biometric secure identity company CLEAR to leverage its new Health Pass technology,” Glanzer says. This has not been done before in the convention industry, although it was used by the NHL for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
There are a lot of great things planned for the 2021 Summit. Make the most of every opportunity, but stay safe. Follow the guidelines and be courteous and patient.