77.3 F

Reno allows businesses to get creative in order to stay afloat


The City of Reno is allowing restaurants and retailers to operate outside in their parking lots to allow more social distancing and increase business during the COVID-19 pandemic. These temporary regulation changes are under the City of Reno’s ReIgnite Reno initiative, designed to help businesses and employees impacted by the pandemic to recover. 

Here’s what businesses can do:

Restaurants and retailers can conduct business outside in parking lots on private property. No permit is required. 

  • Tables, chairs, sales racks must follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Businesses must clean and sanitize these outside areas. 
  • Parking lots can be reduced to accommodate outside operations.
Owner Jessica Lynn Schneider washes her hands outside of Junkee Clothing Exchange & Antiques. The store reopened May 9 and provides an outdoor hand-washing station and complimentary face coverings for customers. Image: Eric Marks

Restaurants and retailers can conduct operations on public sidewalks, after obtaining a Temporary Revocable Occupancy Permit with the City of Reno. The fees for this permit will be waived. 

  • Businesses must follow social distancing guidelines for the spacing of tables, chairs and other furniture. 
  • Businesses must maintain six feet of public pedestrian walkway space and adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act. 
  • Furniture and merchandise racks must not encroach on pedestrian pathways, sidewalk ramps or curb ramps. 
  • Furniture and sales racks can’t be permanently affixed to sidewalks. 
  • Furniture must not block fire hydrants, sprinkler systems or building entrances and exits.
  • Businesses must clean and sanitize the public sidewalk area.
  • The City of Reno may stop the sidewalk operations if they are happening in a construction work zone for repairs or reconstruction.
  • The City of Reno may also remove furniture from the sidewalk if there are City or utility requirements that have the public right-of-way. The owner will be responsible for removal costs if they fail to remove the furniture after a written notice from the City.

Outdoor operations are permitted for distribution, warehousing, processing and assembly in order to maintain social distancing.

  • Outside operations must be located at least 150 feet from any residentially zoned property. 
  • If mechanized equipment, like a forklift, is being used, outdoor operations must be located at least 300 feet from any residentially zoned property.
  • Glare, noise, smoke, particulate matter, odors, vibration and fire hazards must be minimized and comply with the general environmental standards that are outlined in Reno Municipal Code Chapter 18.12, Article 15.

The City of Reno can stop outside operations that cause vehicle or pedestrian obstruction or congestion, present a danger to health or violate any of the requirements listed above. 

Outside hours must be consistent with already-established business operating hours.The businesses must also pack up and move everything inside at the end of the day, no overnight storage outside is allowed. 

Businesses in Reno are also permitted to sell products through curbside commerce and allow 50 percent capacity inside of their premises under phase one of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s reopening plan.

Enough parking lot space?

Ann Silver, CEO of Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce

Ann Silver is the chief executive officer of the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce. She said she supports outside operations but noted it might not be a feasible option for every business as some do not even have parking lots.

“If you can do sales from your parking lot, it’s a decision for a business. ‘Do I lose customers because they can’t park, but I increase business because I can do something from my parking lot?’ That’s a decision for a business owner,” Silver said.

Silver said while some patrons are still afraid to shop, others are eager to venture out. 

“I think consumers want to go into businesses,” Silver said. “They want to see and touch product. They want to see that everything is returning to normal. They want to look at things. They want to browse around.”

The allowance for restaurants and retailers to operate outside is temporary. The City of Reno has not announced when the regulation changes will end.

Lucia Starbuck
Lucia Starbuck
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.