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Judge Plans to Rule on Nevada’s Order to Reclose Bars

Tavern owners feel they were singled out while the state contends the coronavirus pandemic gives the governor the authority to curb the spread of COVID-19

A royal flush on a bar-top gaming machine
A bar-top blackjack game at PT’s Tavern
PT’s Tavern/Facebook

A Nevada judge heard arguments on Thursday from the state and more than 60 Clark County tavern owners, who filed a lawsuit to reverse Gov. Steve Sisolak’s executive order to shut down bars and taverns that do not serve food to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Sisolak reclosed bars in Clark County on July 10, citing a higher number of people testing positive for COVID-19. Sisolak originally allowed bars to reopen on June 4 after closing all nonessential businesses on March 17 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On June 26, after an increased number of COVID-19 cases reported statewide, particularly in Clark County, Sisolak mandated that everyone in a public space must wear a mask or face covering and should wear one outdoors where social distancing is difficult.

Tavern owners, represented by attorney Dennis Kennedy, contend that they were singled out despite enforcing face masks, adding plexiglass dividers between bar-top games, and maintaining social distancing. Taverns with bar-top gaming often earn about 50 percent of the revenues from gambling. Since July 10, the City of Las Vegas, City of Henderson, and Clark County allowed bars to move their table-top games off the bar, but at a reduced number.

The state argues that the governor “is not limited from taking whatever action deemed necessary to contain the virus,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Craig Newby, the attorney representing Gov. Sisolak, questioned what role the court has with emergency orders, including those tied to a novel coronavirus, News 3 LV reports.

Judge Kerry Earley asked both sides to provide additional case law by Thursday, and hopes to rule by Friday.

Judge hears arguments on Sisolak bar-closure order [LVRJ]

Local bar owners going after Gov. Sisolak over closures during pandemic [News 3 LV]

Gov. Steve Sisolak Recloses Bars on Friday to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 [ELV]

How Coronavirus Is Affecting Las Vegas Food and Restaurants [ELV]

Las Vegas Casino Reopenings: All the Updates [ELV]