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Nevada To Enter Into Phase One Of Reopening Saturday

Governor Steve Sisolak is sitting at a desk with a sign language translator behind him as he addresses the state's move to phase one of reopening.
Legislative Counsel Bureau
Nev. Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a new directive this week officially moving the state into phase one of reopening. Nevada has been under a stay-at-home order since mid-March to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

Nearly two-months after shuttering non-essential businesses in Nevada, Governor Steve Sisolak says the state will move into phase one of reopening at 12:01 am Saturday morning. That means retail establishments, restaurants, barbershops and salons across the state can reopen tomorrow, but not without some restrictions. To help us break down the governor’s order, KUNR’s Paul Boger spoke with Bree Zender about the changes.

ZENDER: Break this new order down for me. Are all businesses allowed to open? Only some? Are there still restrictions in place?

BOGER: Right, under the governor’s Roadmap to Recovery, the state is about to move into phase one. The businesses allowed to reopen this weekend include dine-in restaurants, retail establishments, marijuana dispensaries, personal care services like barbershops and salons. People can also finally get a haircut if they like.

There are still restrictions in place. All businesses wishing to reopen must adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. Restaurants and retail stores can only allow up to 50 percent of their capacity in the door at any one time. Haircuts must be by appointment. No one can just walk in off the street.

Workers are highly encouraged to wear face coverings. Actually, in restaurants, it’s mandatory. Employers are also being encouraged to bring workers back in back in phases, not all at once. Speaking at the press conference yesterday, Sisolak told reporters he understands how difficult this has been for everyone.

"Patience on our behalf will mean less patients in our emergency rooms and in our hospitals. That’s important for everyone to understand. I know people are anxious, I know people are eager, but patience will help us keep the number of our hospitalizations to a minimum," said Sisolak.

That being said, not every business is allowed to open. Bars, nightclubs, spas, movie theaters, tattoo and piercing parlors, casinos among others… all of them will remain closed in phase one.

ZENDER: Is there any sense of how long those businesses will have to stay closed?

BOGER: It’s hard to know at this point. Casinos are under the purview of the gaming control board. So, they’ll officially announce when gaming can resume. As for the others, the directive for phase one is set to end on May 31. Does that mean we immediately head into phase two? Unfortunately, Sisolak didn’t give any specifics on what criteria the state needs to meet to move onto the next stage. He says it’s largely going to depend on the virus and how well Nevadans continue to weather this storm.

“Hopefully everything will continue to go well. The trajectories will continue on down there downward slope. We’ll get more testing in place, we’ll continue to have surge capacity in the hospitals, then we can move to phase two and allow some more businesses to open up.”

ZENDER: What if counties wish to move further than the governor’s order, allowing those gyms and bars to reopen?

BOGER: So, unlike his other directives, Sisolak has given some wiggle room to counties. But probably not in the way they’d like. Essentially, if cities and counties would like to extend the state’s full stay-at-home order, they can do that. They just can’t further ease restrictions put in place by the state.

We’re already seeing that happen in a number of rural communities. I mean, earlier this week, the Elko County Commission passed a measure voicing support for businesses wishing to reopen. But yesterday, Sisolak urged local leaders not to encourage that because he says state officials will continue to enforce the order on restricted businesses.

“It’s incumbent on the local jurisdictions through their business licensing boards, our state boards will be out in force. The ones that are licensed, cosmetology for example, already have inspectors in the field [to] visit locations. They will be visiting locations, I certainly hope businesses don’t put their license or the individual operators in jeopardy.”

ZENDER: What if there’s a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases after reopening? Is the governor prepared to shut the state down again?

BOGER: While he didn’t go into specifics on what-ifs, Sisolak did address the consequences for the state if there is another spike in cases. And essentially what he did said was if health officials can determine what’s causing the spread, the state will take steps to mitigate that threat.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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