Gov. Steve Sisolak announced on Thursday that he is loosening some COVID-19 restrictions for the first time since November — and will hand off almost all of the health and safety-related decision-making to local jurisdictions in May.
Starting Monday, capacity limits for indoor establishments will be lifted to 35 percent, for restaurants, places of worship, gyms and casinos, and to 50 percent for libraries, museums, art galleries, aquariums and zoos. At the same time, public gatherings will be expanded from 50 to 100 people, or 35 percent of capacity, whichever is less, while private gatherings will remain limited to 10 people if indoors but expanded to 25 people if outdoors.
The governor framed the plan as a “responsible approach” to reopening that, if all goes well, avoids a scenario in which the state must step back and add more restrictions again. The governor’s update comes as the state continues to see COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations decline, despite the emergence of new variants of the virus that could be faster-spreading and elude existing vaccines.
He also touted the plan as a way to continue expanding in-person learning, especially in the Clark County School District, which has remained virtual for nearly a year but plans to bring back pre-kindergarten through third-grade students on March 1.
“I don’t want to do that — I believe this plan can work. I believe it will work,” Sisolak said during a virtual press conference. “But we must all invest in making it successful. Seventy-five days to trust the science, listen to our public health experts, mask up, get a vaccine if eligible, practice social distancing and see our numbers decline.”
Entities will also be allowed to submit plans to hold large gatherings starting Monday, though no such gatherings will be approved until March 1. Large gatherings will be permitted to be held in venues with a fixed seating capacity of 2,500 or more, though capacity will be limited to 20 percent of seats and organizers of the event will be required to first submit a gathering plan to a local health authority for review and to the state for approval.
If COVID-19 trends continue to improve, the state will start allowing gatherings for trade shows, conferences, conventions, professional seminars and others starting on March 15 for events in excess of 250 people, with attendance capped at 1,000.
The next round of changes will come on March 15, almost one year after Sisolak first announced a sweeping shutdown of nonessential businesses as the pandemic was just beginning to unfold. At that point, almost all businesses will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity and gatherings will be limited to no more than 250 people or 50 percent of fire code, whichever is less.
Those new gathering rules essentially match what the state had put in place in September, just as cases were starting to rise as part of the most recent wave of cases, before it reversed course in November.
Youth and adult recreational sports tournaments will also be allowed to resume on March 15, provided that they receive approval from state authorities prior to competitions.
Additionally, retail stores, indoor malls and recreational centers will be permitted to operate at 50 percent capacity from now until May 1. Spas, massage establishments and salon-type businesses will continue with “strict social distancing requirements” under the authority of state licensing boards, Sisolak said.
High-risk venues, such as strip clubs, nightclubs, day clubs and brothels, will remain closed until at least May 1.
The most significant change, however, will come a couple months from now. Sisolak announced that he plans to cede control of certain pandemic-related decisions to local authorities by May 1. Statewide directives will still remain in place to control the spread of COVID-19 — including, but not limited to, mask requirements and social distancing protocols — but decisions about how many people can be in a business at any one time and how large or small public or private gatherings should be will be left up to local governments.
For more information about this announcement, please read the full article Sisolak unveils 75-day plan that eases capacity limits, transfers decision-making to local entities (thenevadaindependent.com)
This story was produced by reporter Megan Messerly and Jackie Valley for The Nevada Independent and was originally published on February 11, 2021.
The article was shared with Noticiero Móvil thanks to our partnership with The Nevada Independent.