Local barber Dee Goodman opens up her business to existing clients despite state order to remain closed due to COVID-19. Reno Gazette Journal
Compliance with social distancing measures credited for boosting economic recovery effort
Gov. Steve Sisolak says restaurants, retail stores, barber shops, hair salons and some brewpubs can resume limited operations on Saturday, a full week ahead of the schedule laid out in Nevada’s coronavirus recovery plan.
Most Silver State residents did a great job staying home to prevent the deadly disease’s spread, Sisolak said on Thursday, and that’s allowed officials to speed up efforts to resuscitate the state’s COVID-clobbered economy.
“I want to emphasize we’re not done with this fight,” the governor told reporters during a press conference in Carson City. “We don’t want to put our gloves down. It will not go away until we have a vaccine, and we may not have a vaccine anytime soon.
“More patience on our behalf will mean less patients in our hospitals.”
Sisolak last week said the Silver State was in “phase zero” of its virus-recovery effort, and was expected to move into a new phase around the same time his latest stay-at-home order expires on May 15. He’s repeatedly said that businesses could not start unlocking their doors until the state had, among other things, seen a 14-day decline in positive COVID tests and hospitalizations.
But suddenly surpassing that benchmark will not mean a return to business as usual.
Sisolak said the state is not expected to open additional businesses until May 30, and did not rule out reinstating stricter virus-prevention protocols if there’s a spike in new COVID cases or hospitalizations.
Restaurants and retail outlets set to reopen this weekend can only use half of their available seating capacity, and will be barred from providing self-serve stations such as salad and beverage bars.
Barber shops and salons without privacy partitions will have to maintain a six-foot separation between customers. Pot shops will be subject to similar social distancing standards, as will open-air malls, car dealerships and drive-in movie theaters.
Employees at each of those operations will be required to wear face masks, which are also “strongly encouraged” for customers.
Casinos, bars, nightclubs, gyms and most high-capacity sports facilities will remain closed during phase one of the state’s reopening plan. Gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited.
Sisolak said each of the state’s counties can stick to stricter virus-prevention protocols if they so choose, but will not be allowed to reopen faster than the rest of the state.
He said Washoe County, which saw a two-week increase in hospitalizations ahead of Thursday’s announcement, may be a good candidate for keeping lockdown measures in place.
“That’s going to now fall to the Washoe County Commission, as far as determining if they don’t want to reopen because they’ve seen this uptick,” Sisolak added. “They can say, ‘I don’t think we’re ready.’ … That’ll be up to them.”
What’s happened so far
The governor’s latest COVID announcement comes one week after he debuted a phased reopening effort that he said would allow many Nevada retail stores, small businesses and other “low-density open spaces” to reopen by mid-May or sooner.
The first-term Democrat last week allowed the limited reopening of all retail businesses and pot shops, along with some churches and recreational facilities.
Smoke shops, breweries and liquor stores resumed pickup and delivery services on Friday, the same day the state relaxed restrictions on outdoor activities such as golf, pickleball and tennis. Nevada hospitals and dental offices voluntarily resumed necessary medical procedures earlier this month.
The Silver State’s nonessential businesses have been closed since March 17.
Officials predict it will take two or three weeks to work through each of the phases in Sisolak’s plan. The governor has said he isn’t sure how many phases will ultimately be required.
James DeHaven is the politics reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal. He covers campaigns, the Nevada Legislature and everything in between. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com right here.
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