Henderson mayor Debra March, Las Vegas councilwomen Michele Fiori and Victoria Seaman, Gov. Steve Sisolak, and his wife Kathy Sisolak dined at Bella Vita at the District at Green Valley Ranch on June 9, but photos of the group went viral after people noticed the none were wearing a mask and sat close to each other.
The governor’s office released a statement after the photos came out, stating that he and the First Lady removed their face coverings to dine. “He was approached and agreed to take a quick photo with the management of the restaurant. The governor recognizes he should have put his face covering back on and separated himself by six feet. He understands we are all adjusting to these practices under our new normal and he takes his responsibility seriously to model the behavior he expects of the residents of this state to replicate. He can assure Nevadans this will not occur again.”
The governor’s office noted that the restaurant did require face coverings for staff, reservations in advance, hand sanitizer at every table, and decreased capacity.
Bella Vita also responded on Facebook, saying that the photos didn’t tell the whole story. “We would like to reassure everyone that proper social distancing was put in place. He was also wearing a mask, except for when he was eating and taking a picture. As always, the health and safety of our employees and guests are of the upmost importance to us. These are hard times for everyone, and we would never want to add to that stress in anyway, or put anyone at risk. Like we stated before, as soon as someone walks into to our restaurant, they are family. No matter who they are, we treat them with love and respect. We are so grateful to all of our friends and family.”
The news comes Nevada recorded some of its highest numbers of new COVID-19 cases and the governor’s office looks into adding what he calls “enhanced face covering policies” for Nevadans. On June 18, Nevada added more than 400 new cases of COVID-19 for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic, and Clark County alone added more than 300 new cases.
“Nevada Health Response has repeatedly urged the use of face coverings when out in public as one of the strongest methods of mitigating the spread of COVID-19, and directives signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak mandate the use of face coverings by employees who interact with the public,” the governor’s office said in a statement on Friday. “As the state evaluates the latest COVID data in Nevada and around the country for potential next steps in the state’s phased reopening plans, Gov. Sisolak is asking the Medical Advisory Team to evaluate potential options for enhanced face covering policies in Nevada and provide any recommendations for consideration to strengthen Nevada’s response to this global pandemic.”
Nevada only requires business employees to wear masks but not customers.
Gov. Steve Sisolak closed casinos on March 17 to curb the spread of COVID-19. The Nevada Gaming Control Board issued guidelines to resorts to reopen that include maintaining 50 percent capacity, masks on staff, cleaning protocols, and social distancing throughout the casino. Casinos were permitted to reopen across the state on June 4. He says the state is not ready to move into phase three of reopening for business as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb statewide.