City further defines essential vs. non-essential business, emphasizes employee and customer safety
The City of Reno’s Community Development department released an updated business operations guide, adding interpretations for what are essential and non-essential businesses in Reno, Sparks and Washoe County. The directive is in line with Gov. Steve Sisolak’s statewide orders.
Some of the biggest changes are: bars can now sell sealed alcoholic drinks to-go, non-essential retailers can sell products by curbside commerce and bicycles are considered essential for travel. All businesses must adhere to strict social distancing and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s health guidelines.
“Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Governor Sisolak has issued a series of orders intended to reduce interactions between Nevadans, and limit places where Nevadans gather and the disease may spread. This Directive builds on previous efforts, implements new guidance from the Governor’s Medical Advisory Team, and clarifies some previous orders to reflect necessary actions that must be taken to combat COVID19,” the directive said.
What is essential and non-essential?
Under the new directive, businesses with an on-premise or off-premise alcohol license can sell packaged alcohol. The alcohol container must have a secure lid that can’t be sipped through and have a seal that would indicate if it was opened. The alcohol must be paid for before it’s picked up and it is to be delivered directly through contactless, curbside pick up. Customers are not allowed to sit inside the establishment. It is unclear how IDs will be checked.
Any businesses that intend to sell alcohol must first register with the city’s Business License Division and also prominently post a notice on site that details how the purchased alcohol can be transported, as specified in the city’s directive. The opportunity to sell alcohol could be revoked at any time if businesses don’t follow health and safety measures.
Furthermore, non-essential retailers can adapt their operations to sell goods online or through curbside pick up. The public isn’t allowed inside the building. The product must be paid for either by phone, email or through an online service. Think of it like online shopping without the delivery.
Additionally, this directive deemed bicycling as an essential method of travel. That means bicycle shops and repair services are considered essential because they provide transport needs, but the interior of shops must remain closed to the public. Test rides must be orchestrated through an appointment, and the employee and customer must not meet face to face.
Healthcare services like hospitals, dentists, physical therapists, pharmacies and businesses that sell medical supplies are essential.
A number of other essential businesses may conduct business if following social distancing guidelines. These include those businesses that have remained open throughout the pandemic, as well as essential infrastructure, home services, and residential facilities.
“Social distancing restrictions do not supersede any safety practices imposed on the industry by state or federal law. These businesses must also follow all applicable COVID-19 risk mitigation policies and any precautionary measures and guidance issued by the Nevada Department of Business and Industry and any other state regulatory body,” according to the directive.
Essential businesses are instructed to cap their capacity at 50 percent.
Despite loosening restrictions for some businesses, the city’s directive includes a list of businesses that are still deemed non-essential and should remain closed. Those include services such as tattoo parlors, smoke shops, hairdressers and nail salons, along with recreation and fitness facilities, theaters, casinos, and churches.
Specifics within the directive indicate that hairdressers and barbers are prohibited from going to an individual’s house to provide a haircut, and that faith-based services are to remain closed, including drive-in worship services.
Protections for workers?
Guidance from the State of Nevada and Nevada Health Response outlining worker protections is also included in the directive. It states that workers cannot be discriminated against or fired for exercising health and safety rights, such as raising health concerns to an employer, unionizing or filing a complaint with Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), which must be done within 30 days of a violation.
Employers must also follow guidelines to provide safe working conditions for their staff, such as signage and physical or visual social distancing tools, such as tape outlines on the floor indicating a six-foot distance.
The directive also recommends businesses install hand sanitizing stations for customers and employees, and ensure gloves are used when touching common surfaces like carts, money and shared cash registers. Businesses should also consider constructing sneeze guards between customers and employees, and disinfect surfaces of check stands between each customer if possible. Reusable shopping bags are prohibited.
Employers should also look for signs that employees are sick. Employers must know the symptoms of COVID-19 and send sick workers home if they are ill. Employers must provide a safe avenue for workers to express safety suggestions and concerns, and report customers that are not practicing social distancing.
While the directive’s Q&A section advises that Nevada’s OSHA office should be alerted to any unsafe conditions in workplaces, OSHA’s resources are at their limits according to Gov. Steve Sisolak.
“OSHA’s responsibilities, occupational, safety, health, and they’re doing that and I know that they’ve got, they’re like every other resource department I have, stretched especially thin right now. When it comes to workplace and worker safety that’s extremely important to us,” Sisolak said during his press conference on April 21.
Some essential workers in Nevada are reporting that they’re terrified to go to work, are in fear of being exposed to the virus, and then getting sick. Yet, the business operations guide doesn’t recommend that businesses provide hazard pay or paid sick leave.
Lucia Starbuck is a graduate of University of Nevada, Reynolds School of Journalism. She has reported on issues impacting Northern Nevada, including the affordable housing crisis, a lack of oral healthcare and challenges voters with disabilities face while trying to participate in the election process. She has directed and filmed two documentaries about homelessness.Through reporting, Lucia strives to shine a light on the challenges vulnerable populations face in our community.