Don and Robin Hathcock sipped on drinks Friday at the Omaha Bar & Lounge inside the Plaza in downtown Las Vegas. Finally, after months of living in quarantine, it felt good to be out.
During normal times, live music would be playing at the lounge, but social distancing practices out of COVID-19 concerns have put a kink in the live music pipeline around Las Vegas, at least for now.
That doesn’t mean, however, that all people need to be socially distant — at least 6 feet apart, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — while in public, and Plaza officials have taken advantage of that fact.
Though one side of the Omaha Bar features seats that are spaced appropriately for the times, another area — called “Couples Corner” — has seats that are right next to each other, so couples living in the same household can cozy up.
That’s exactly what the Hathcocks, visitors from Moline, Ill., were doing Friday afternoon.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Robin Hathcock said. “Everyone has been social distancing in their house for a long time. People want to go somewhere now. I’m not worried about the virus anyway, because anytime God decides that I’m going, I’m going. It doesn’t matter what’s going on.”
Plaza CEO Jonathan Jossel said he recognized a small opportunity to allow for closer proximity for some guests. The idea, he said, came from a guest interaction via a social media channel.
“She wanted to know why she and her husband, who had been quarantined together this entire time, couldn’t sit next to each other at a bar,” Jossel said. “That got us thinking that it kind of was unfair. We thought, why penalize them?”
Jossel said Couples Corner certainly isn’t meant hold a big crowd, but one or two couples could use the area to be a little closer to one another.
Like other casinos that recently opened after about 80 days of closures, the Plaza has spaced out not only bar stools but also slot machine and table game chairs for safety purposes.
“If you’re sitting at the bar with your significant other with chairs spaced out every second seat, it’s a bit of an awkward distance,” Jossel said. “Now, if there’s 16 people in the Couples Corner area, the bartender is going to say something, but for those who want to be next to each other and have a drink, that’s why we created that space.”