Gov. Steve Sisolak’s latest directive on Friday closed all bars, pubs, taverns, distilleries, breweries, and wineries that don’t serve food in seven Nevada counties, including Clark and Washoe, home to Las Vegas and Reno respectively. Bars without food service have to remain closed at least through July 24 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Cases surged in Clark County since bars were allowed to reopen on May 29.
“We know that COVID-19 can easily spread when people are congregating for long periods of time, like inside a bar. In states where we have seen significant spikes, such as Arizona, Texas, and Florida, they have all taken actions to roll back bars,” Sisolak said in a press conference on Thursday. “Recently, Dr. Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious-disease expert, advised that congregating in bars poses a significant risk and is one of the most dangerous things people could do right now. We must heed his advice.”
Some bar owners are banding together to potentially file a lawsuit against the state. A group of as many as 50 tavern owners feel like the state is targeting bars, especially those with gaming built into the bars, a lucrative source of revenue.
Amy Vandermark, the marketing manager for Distill and Remedy bars, tells KTNV, “We see that casinos are still having the ability to be open and function and we feel we did everything we were asked to do and we’re trying to figure out why we’re being targeted.”
Steiner’s Pub owner Roger Sachs estimates that about 50 percent of his revenue at three local bars comes from gaming.
Bars also closed in Elko, Humboldt, Lander, Lyon, and Nye counties. The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services wants to see the seven counties perform an average of 150 tests per day per 100,000 residents; a 14-day new case rate of less than 100 per 100,000 residents; and a seven-day average of positive tests, measured after a seven-day lag, divided by the county population. Counties with a case rate higher than 100 will meet this elevated disease transmission risk criteria, while counties that have a case rate higher than 25 and a test positivity rate higher than 7 percent will meet this elevated disease transmission risk criteria.
On Friday when the governor issued his new directive, Nevada reported 1,004 new cases, a new high for the state.
Pools and gyms may be next to close. “I want to be crystal clear: unless you are actively walking into a pool, swimming in a pool, or walking out of a pool, you should have a face covering on at all times. It’s a simple as that,” Sisolak said as a warning to those businesses.
On Thursday, Sisolak noted that OSHA conducted observations at businesses statewide to see how they were following his directives, which include wearing a mask indoors and outdoors when six feet of social distancing is not possible. “OSHA has completed more than 1,500 initial observations so far, with a compliance rate of 79 percent. That means one-fifth of businesses visited by OSHA inspectors are not in compliance with our measures, and this is unacceptable.”
He noted that fewer than half the bars that OSHA inspectors visited were in compliance.
Sisolak also says that restaurants and other businesses that serve food cannot seat parties larger than six people indoors or outdoors, and he strongly encourages outdoor dining.