Nevada will enter phase one of Governor Sisolak’s reopening plan on May 9, lifting a significant amount of restrictions for restaurants, nonessential retailers and salons. Sisolak’s stay-at-home orders are still in effect until May 15. Mask-wearing and social distancing are still strongly encouraged.
Here’s what you can expect on Saturday:
Businesses that are permitted to reopen
Food establishments are permitted to allow on-premises dining. Restaurants must not exceed 50 percent capacity inside, excluding bar seating. Reservations should be required. Tables must be placed at least six feet apart. Patrons must wait outside for their table. Bar tops are to remain closed. No self-serve food options. Employees are required to wear masks.
- Bars that serve food
- Breweries that serve food
- Pubs that serve food
- Wineries that serve food
Salons are permitted to start serving patrons. Every other chair must remain empty. Every chair can be in use only if there is a wall or partition between chairs. There will be no walk-ins allowed; appointments must be made. Patrons must wait outside for their appointment. Stylists are required to wear masks.
- Barber shops
- Hair salons
- Nail salons
No more than 50 percent capacity is allowed inside all retail businesses — regardless of whether they’ve been deemed essential and or nonessential. This goes for businesses that have remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic. They must now restrict the amount of patrons inside to under 50 percent capacity too. Employees are required to wear masks.
- Retail businesses
- Outdoor malls
- Appliance, furniture and home furnishing showrooms
- Automobile, ATV and recreational vehicle dealers and showrooms. Employees are not permitted inside vehicles during test drives unless they live in the same household as the test driver.
- Drive-in movie theaters
Retail cannabis dispensaries must receive approval from the Marijuana Enforcement Division in order to allow customers inside of their facilities. Dispensaries must not allow more than 10 patrons inside the facility, or go over 50 percent capacity, whichever is fewer. Employees and patrons are required to wear masks.
Businesses that are to remain closed
- Bars, pubs, taverns that don’t serve food
- Gyms and fitness centers
- Recreation and community centers
- Public pools
- Sporting events
- Movie theaters
- Live performances
- Race tracks
- Bowling centers
- Ski facilities
- Miniature golf
- Tattoo parlors
- Body piercing parlors
- Tanning salons
- Massage parlors
Gaming will not reopen during phase one. The Gaming Control Board is working on a plan to gradually reopen gaming establishments in the future.
Statewide benchmarks for reopening met, but Washoe County falls short
Sisolak said the state met the benchmarks required to begin reopening, earlier than he originally anticipated, which was May 15. Nevada needed to see a steady decrease in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19, increased capacity for testing, sufficient hospital capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Nevada’s cumulative COVID-19 test positivity rate started at 12.2 percent on April 24 and fell to 11.2 percent as of May 6 according to Sisolak. Sisolak said there’s also been a decrease in hospitalization for COVID-19 since April 21.
More than 50,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 as of May 7.
Hospitals in Nevada have enough capacity to handle a surge in COVID-19-related hospitalizations, according to Nevada Hospital Association data.
However, Washoe County is not meeting these benchmarks that are required for reopening. There has been an increase in positive COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks. On May 1, Washoe County saw its highest spike of new positive cases.
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are also increasing, according to the required report Washoe County submitted to the governor’s Local Empowerment Advisory Panel (LEAP) regarding where the county is at in terms of meeting the benchmarks required for reopening.
Where’s the PPE?
Sisolak said the state has distributed nearly 3 million N95 and surgical masks to health care workers.
Washoe County has provided 83,000 boxes of PPE, including masks, gloves, face shields and gowns, to law enforcement, first responders, health care facilities and long term care facilities.
But local health care workers are arguing it still isn’t enough. Just yesterday, nurses from Saint Mary’s protested what they are calling unsafe working conditions, citing that they don’t have enough PPE and are having to reuse PPE, which is resulting in nurses becoming infected with COVID-19.
Sisolak said the goal is to test 4,000 individuals in the state for COVID-19 per day. 1,000 of those tests must be collected from Washoe County. About 300 people are being tested every four days in Washoe County. There have been 12,193 COVID-19 tests performed in Washoe County as of May 6. That is a little over two percent of the county’s population.
Counties can implement tighter restrictions
Sisolak said individual counties can impose tighter restrictions than his reopening directives if they deem it necessary.
“That little bit of a plateau or upper trend [in hospitalizations] in Washoe is going to now fall to the Washoe County Commission and determine if they don’t want them to reopen because they have seen this, this tick upwards, this trend, if in fact it is a trend, they can say, ‘We don’t think we’re ready,’” Sisolak said.
At the time of this report, Washoe County officials have not indicated if that will happen.
All employees who work with the public will be required to wear masks starting May 9 — though, this requirement does not extend to customers.
Health officials are urging the public to also wear masks when they go out in order to protect workers. A lot of COVID-19 infections are from workers being exposed while on the clock and then bringing the virus home to their families, according to the Washoe County Health District. Sisolak admitted it would be incredibly difficult and possibly dangerous to require the public to wear masks when they venture out.
“In an ideal world, every customer, every person should wear a mask,” he said, “There is a minority of the population that feel that it’s infringing on their rights, their freedoms, to force them to wear masks.”
He cited protests around the country, including in Carson City.
“You’ve seen some of the violence that’s occurred across the country by forcing people. I mean, you’ve got a security guard at a dollar store that got shot in the face. Two employees, gals at a McDonald’s, got shot because they talked about social distancing,” Sisolak noted at yesterday’s press conference. “You got a park ranger get shoved in a lake. I mean, somebody else got spit on.
“People there are just going to extremes when they don’t want to follow one of these. I would like all patrons to wear a mask. The business can require all patrons to wear a mask if they choose to do so. But some of them were saying that they would rather make sure that their employees do it, and put the onus on the businesses, and hopefully they will encourage in a nice way, make masks available,” Sisolak added.
Sisolak reiterated that if he sees a surge in positive COVID-19 cases, or an increase in hospitalization state-wide, he will take back some of his lifted restrictions.
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.