FILE - In this March 17, 2020, file photo, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak responds to a question during a news conference at the Sawyer State Building in Las Vegas. Nevada's top legislative Republican called Thursday, April 16, 2020, for the governor to outline plans for reopening casinos and nonessential businesses closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and to say whether he'll extend the closure order past April 30. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
Because of excellent cooperation by Nevadans statewide, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday the state can begin relaxing restrictions and reopening some businesses.
The list includes restaurants, retail stores barbershops and
hairdressers as well as auto dealerships.
All of those businesses can reopen at 12:01 a.m., Saturday.
But Sisolak said they must follow strict guidelines to protect customers and employees including allowing just 50 percent occupancy in all cases and requiring appointments to dine or get a haircut.
He said he is able to relax some of the strict closure
orders he issued beginning March 17 because the state has shown a steady downward
trend in infections for more than 14 days and a full percent decrease in the
rate of positive tests to 11.2 percent as of this week.
“The trend is strong enough to meet the criteria for moving
into Phase 1,” he said.
In addition he said the state’s hospitals have enough
capacity to manage a surge if one occurs and expanded testing ability that will
soon provide for 4,000 tests a week. He said Nevada’s Department of Health and
Human Services now has enough capacity to begin testing patients who don’t have
symptoms as well as those who do.
Retail, restaurant and other store and service providers
must all wear face masks, he said, and limit customers to just half their rated
capacity. For auto dealers, Sisolak said test drives are only allowed if just
the buyer and immediate family are in the vehicle, not the dealership
He said for retail shops and restaurants, he is still
encouraging curbside delivery of food and goods.
For restaurants with liquor licenses including pubs and
taverns, they can serve food but their bar sections must remain shut down at
He also said the 50 percent capacity limit has been extended to home centers and big box stores that previously had no capacity limits on them.
Sisolak said no local jurisdiction in the state can adopt
more liberal standards than he laid out but that county commissions could, if
they choose, impose tighter restrictions.
Among those businesses still closed, he said, are stand-alone bars that don’t serve sit down food orders, nightclubs, theaters with the exception of drive-ins which are already allowed to be open. He said gyms, body piercing and tattoo parlors are also closed in phase 1. He said strip clubs and brothels must also remain closed.
He said he was leaving the fate of casino resorts including
the mega-resorts on the Las Vegas Strip in the hands of the Gaming Control
Board which will decide when and how they can reopen.
Sisolak also urged people not to have multifamily and
extended gatherings for Mother’s Day on Sunday.
“I urge you not to have those dinners,” he said. “No good
can come from that. It’s not worth taking the chance.”
Sisolak said in talking with other governors, Nevada is one
of the top two states in dealing with and controlling the spread of the virus.
He credited the many Nevadans who are taking social distancing and other safety
precautions like frequent hand washing serious for making it possible for the
state to begin relaxing the controls.
“We are doing tremendous,” he said. “We could not have
gotten this far without the help of all Nevadans.”
But Sisolak made it clear that keeping Phase 1 and moving on
to a much more relaxed Phase 2 reopening depends on Nevadans continuing social
distancing, sanitizing and other protocols. And he urged everyone to wear a
mask when out in public or at a store.
“The beginning of opening our economy is not the end of
coronavirus,” he said. “It will not go away until we have a vaccine and we do
not have a vaccine in the foreseeable future.”
He said if there is a problem officials can identify that
causes a surge, “we will roll back some of the standards announced today.”