Councilmember Oscar Delgado and the other panelists explained via the streaming service this Tuesday, June 9, what business owners and the public can expect as the state eases social distancing restrictions put in place in March to halt the spread of COVID-19. They also touched on antibody testing, in which some residents have been invited to participate. All still encouraged community members to weigh the risks of infection and take precautions when venturing outside of their homes.
In attendance were representatives from the city, the Community Health Alliance (CHA) and IC Media Strategy. Delgado led the discussion and together, they went over what businesses and public spaces have opened, what rules business owners must abide by, how to protect oneself and others, as well as resources for the public. Similar to the last livestream, they directed viewers to covid19washoe.com, where anyone can get up-to-date information about COVID-19 in English and Spanish.
Alex Woodley, with the Neighborhood Services Department, described which businesses can reopen under phase two. Places like gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and more are reopening with capacity limitations.
Woodley also explained that business owners will need to have an OSHA plan available. The plan should detail the precautions a business is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s not necessary to have a permit,” Woodley said. “But if we go [to your business]…we are going to ask for your plan.”
He added that if people need help creating a plan, OSHA provides recommendations based on the industry of the business. If owners have additional questions about their businesses, he encouraged them to contact the Department of Business Licenses at 775-334-2090. For general questions or concerns about the city, people can call Reno Direct at 775-334-4636.
Vanessa Vancour, with CHA, also briefly explained the antibody tests that will be sent out randomly by mail in Washoe County. She said that these are not a scam, and it’s important that individuals selected for this test respond. The results will help investigate the spread of coronavirus.
Ivet Contreras, with IC Media Strategy, also brought up the importance of maintaining mental health during the pandemic. Vancour agreed, saying that CHA has numerous mental health services and resources available.
Despite more businesses reopening, the panelists advised that the public still be cautious and practice social distancing when possible. For example, Rossmerry Diaz, with the Parks and Recreation Department, said that parks are open to gatherings of 50 people or less, but groups still should try to limit to around 15-20 people if possible.
Delgado emphasized that it’s important to remember that visiting some businesses will still pose risks, even though they can now open. Woodley concurred, adding that he still does not plan to go to the gym because of the risks involved.
“The responsibility is your own,” Woodley said, encouraging people to bring their own towels and even disinfectants like Lysol. “If you go to the gym, you have the responsibility [to protect yourself].”
Vancour shared similar sentiments. She acknowledged that every person can weigh the risks for themselves, but urged that choices should be based on accurate information from official sources–not family and friends on Facebook.
“At the end of the day, for many of us, it’s a personal decision,” she said. “But what is most important is always looking for the facts.”
Bianca Wright is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she is studying to get a double major in Journalism and Spanish. Aside from being a lifelong writer, she has a passion for photography, traveling, and learning about other cultures. In the past, she’s written several news articles for Noticerio Móvil, a bilingual newspaper at UNR. There, she reported on stories related to topics like DACA and COVID-19 in Spanish and English. With her writing, she aims to find creative and respectful ways to help tell the stories of underrepresented communities in Northern Nevada.