Sisolak says process of reopening Nevada begins Saturday

Geoff Dornan / Nevada Appeal

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% 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% 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 employees.

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 this point.

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.”

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