51.3 F

Social distancing could be relaxed May 1, capacity limits lifted by June 1


Washoe County commissioners on Tuesday agreed to a COVID-19 mitigation plan that loosens social distancing restrictions in May and business capacity limits in June as the state passes authority next month to individual counties.

However, a mask mandate will remain.

Assistant County Manager David Solaro at Thursday's meeting discussing criteria for reopening. Youtube image.
Assistant County Manager David Solaro at a Washoe County Commission meeting on April 8, 2021 discussing criteria for reopening. YouTube image.

“We cannot go in and change anything associated with masks within our plan,” said David Solaro, assistant county manager. “There’s a provision in here (governor’s directive 044) that says anything we try to loosen with mask wearing will essentially be denied.”

On May 1, businesses can expect to set their own social distancing guidelines, although the plan says they should be consistent with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. On June 1, social distancing will no longer be required and capacity limits will be lifted, unless monitoring and metrics show a need to continue restrictions.

For example, if the Truckee Meadows COVID risk meter reaches orange (high risk), the the public will be warned that if it reaches red (very high risk), the community will be required to revert to tighter restrictions.

Also, if new case counts reach 625 per 100,000 over a 30-day period threshold level, then additional restrictions on businesses resume with initial focus on restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms and large events.

COVID-19 risk meter data includes test positivity rates, new cases, medical interventions and hospital capacity. Such information is obtained through the Nevada Hospital Association and Washoe County Health District. The risk meter this week is orange, meaning there’s an elevated risk of community spread.

Washoe County’s plan will be presented to the Nevada State COVID Task Force on April 22. 

Solaro said that as restrictions loosen, the community needs to remain prudent because COVID-19 spread doesn’t recognize dates.

“It is still incumbent upon our citizens to take into account their personal choices on what it is they’re doing, whether they’re going to get a vaccine or if they’re not going to get a vaccine, the precautions to take for themselves to keep themselves safe, and more importantly to keep others safe who may interact with them,” Solaro said.

County Commission Chairman Bob Lucey said the plan could be amended as needed after May 1.

“If we feel the plan still isn’t adequately addressing the needs of our county, we can come back and schedule a special meeting after May 1 to address any needs that aren’t being addressed with in the plan,” Lucey said.

County officials noted that approximately 46% of Washoe residents aged 16 and older are at least partially vaccinated, and the county will soon reach 50%, which is a threshold for removing some restrictions.  

Two weeks ago, all people in Nevada age 16 and older became eligible to make an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Carla O'Day
Carla O'Day
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.