Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced the lifting of some COVID-19 restrictions, as portions of the state begin to reopen.
KUNR’s senior reporter, Paul Boger, spoke with Noah Glick, who’s been following the updates, to learn what changes take effect today.
BOGER: Noah, thanks for joining me. I first want to ask, what’s different starting today? What’s new?
GLICK: So, the governor has begun lifting some of the state’s restrictions that were put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. Retail businesses that were previously deemed nonessential can now do curbside commerce or deliveries, much in the way restaurants have been doing. And yes, that does include cannabis dispensaries and liquor stores.
Additionally, golf, tennis, and pickleball are now allowed again, as long as people adhere to the six-foot social distancing and sanitation guidelines. Also, drive-in religious services can now happen, as long as people stay in their vehicle and that they’re six feet apart from people outside their household. But, any in-person gathering of ten people or more, those are still prohibited.
BOGER: So, does this mean there’s any changes then to the governor’s stay-at-home order?
GLICK: No, and in fact, Sisolak actually has extended the stay-at-home order through May 15, although people will be allowed to leave their homes for nonessential shopping, as long as it's that curbside pickup method I mentioned earlier.
During a press conference [Thursday], Sisolak outlined a handful of checkpoints that he’d like to see the state meet before beginning to reopen the economy.
“First, consistent and sustainable downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases and a decrease in the trend of COVID-19 hospitalizations over a 14-day period,” Sisolak said.
In addition, Sisolak says he wants to make sure hospitals won’t be overloaded, that there’s more testing capacity and added protections for vulnerable populations, like the elderly.
BOGER: Did Governor Sisolak outline any sort of strategy here? What’s the plan for getting to this Phase 1 of opening back up?
GLICK: Yeah, Sisolak outlined a new strategy where he’s going to be looking for much more input from counties. He announced the formation of a Local Empowerment Advisory Panel, or LEAP. This group will be tasked with working hand-in-hand with counties to determine what specific challenges or opportunities there are around the state in opening up the economy.
It’s worth noting though that Sisolak was most recently a Clark County Commissioner before becoming governor, so he’s kind of big on this local leadership, especially for this next phase.
“Responsible county governments, with their knowledge of unique communities and their existing local licensing and regulatory structures, are in the best position to execute the gradual reopening of businesses and public life of their local residents,” Sisolak said.
The panel will be led by Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick, who will represent urban counties, and Eureka County Commission Chair, J.J. Goicoechea, who will represent rural counties. Sisolak said there will also be stakeholders from public health, business groups and more.
I should say Sisolak also made it clear that the state will still be in charge of determining when to open the state and how. This group really will just inform those decisions, based on what’s going on in various counties around the state. In addition, all the counties will follow the same schedule of easing restrictions. So, you’re not going to see in-dining restaurants open up in Douglas County while Washoe County remains closed, for example.
Sisolak added that any county plans will need to meet or exceed what the state has outlined.
BOGER: What else should people know about this new directive?
GLICK: Briefly, I think it’s worth mentioning that with the stay at home order being extended, people will get a little bit more time to renew their driver’s license or other DMV documents. If your license expires within 30 days after Nevada lifts its emergency order, whenever that happens, you’ll actually get an additional 60 days to renew.
And then I have to mention gaming, which has been shut down for more than a month now. This order does not reopen gaming establishments, and Sisolak said that will ultimately be left up to the state Gaming Control Board to determine when casinos can safely open and what that will look like. And that will be done in a phased approach as well.