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Social distancing comes easy with few crowds at Las Vegas airport

The handful of people trickling through McCarran International Airport’s Terminal 1 baggage claim Wednesday had plenty of room to keep their distance from each other.

Attendants still kept watch over slot machines with darkened screens. Signs on every vertical surface urged people to wash their hands, and the voice of a female announcer repeating health guidelines echoed loudly in the unusually empty space.

Three people declined to speak to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, saying they didn’t want anyone to know they’d been traveling during the pandemic.

Some travelers wore surgical masks or respirators, and a few wrapped scarves around their faces or pulled up shirts to cover their nose and mouth.

Diana Studzinska, 25, is from Poland and has been traveling around the U.S. with her boyfriend for a month.

They went to Florida, New Orleans and Houston before arriving in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

“Actually, in New Orleans it was perfectly normal,” Studzinska said. “We didn’t see anything in the streets, like people were all over the city. But in Houston, it was a ghost town, and we just had to make do. We already had our flights and we already had the hotel, so we felt like, all right, we’ll go to Las Vegas and we’ll see what will happen.”

They had to find accommodations through Airbnb at the last minute. Neither Luxor nor the third-party site that booked their room had contacted them about closures, but Studzinska saw the news before they arrived.

“We’re just staying in the apartment for two days and maybe go out to see some parks,” she said.

Studzinska said they’d probably go check out the empty Strip, as well.

“Maybe it’s a cool thing, because you’ll never see it like that,” she said. “Maybe it’s something interesting for us. You have to look at it with this perspective.”

She said the couple planned to stay in the U.S. for two more months, but she thinks they will return home earlier because of all the closures.

They’re also worried about what will happen if they get sick while they’re in the country.

“We have the health insurance, but apparently it doesn’t cover epidemics, so I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” Studzinska said. “We just, we just have a plan not to get sick.”

Alvaro Denegri, 22, arrived Wednesday morning in Las Vegas to meet with some business partners before heading back to Los Angeles.

Denegri said he had heard “very briefly” about Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Tuesday evening announcement regarding the closure of nonessential businesses but was surprised by the noon Wednesday deadline.

He had a room at the WorldMark Las Vegas hotel and had not been notified of any changes to his reservation.

Regarding traveling, he said: “I wasn’t too concerned about myself. I’m more concerned about, like, what if I get it and spread it?”

Many of the visitors weren’t visitors at all but locals returning home amid rumors of domestic travel restrictions.

Keaira, a local mother who declined to give her last name, said she flew to Maryland with her preschool-aged daughter to help her own mother move but returned as soon as she could.

Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0365. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter.

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