When the rodeo left Las Vegas, it removed the last big event this year that could have re-energized the city’s Strip and battered convention business.

The Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s National Finals Rodeo, held in Las Vegas since 1985, moved to Arlington, Texas, in September because of Nevada’s pandemic restrictions. The 10-day rodeo attracted 170,000 fans last year and ranks as one of Las Vegas’s top draws annually.

As other states have opened more swiftly, Nevada’s public-health restrictions and a weakened travel industry have kept conventions and meetings from returning to Las Vegas, a continuing setback for the city’s battered casino industry and the state’s overall economy. City officials and event producers say they expect Las Vegas’s convention business to return as coronavirus concerns ease, but no one knows when that might be or how conventions will be operating by then.

As other states have opened more swiftly, Nevada’s public-health restrictions and a weakened travel industry have kept conventions and meetings from returning to Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak recently increased the maximum gathering size to 250 people, from 50. Conventions of up to 1,000 people are also allowed, as long as attendees remain separated into 250-person sections, including partitioned waitstaff and amenities.

In a Sept. 29 news conference, Mr. Sisolak said Nevada is taking safe steps in reopening “with the goal of preventing a rollercoaster of up and down cases that leads to uncertainty for…meeting and convention and event planners.”

MGM SAYS IT CAN SAFELY HOST CONVENTIONS DURING COVID-19

The Las Vegas Strip has transformed over the past two decades into a hub for conventions and events, competing with cities like Orlando, Chicago and New Orleans. Casino companies have relied on group