New guidance from the state allows restaurants and bars to increase their capacity to 35 percent on February 15. Gov. Steve Sisolak lifted his pause on reopening the state during a press conference on Thursday, ending nearly three months of 25 percent capacity limitations at restaurants and bars to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“I know our bar and restaurant owners and others are doing everything they can to keep their staffing customers safe,” Sisolak says, but cautioned that COVID-19 transmission risk increases with the number of individuals in one location, the ability of those dining and drinking to wear masks, the amount of ventilation, and the length of exposure. “For example, individuals dining indoors are likely to remain in the location for a longer length of time with their masks removed, and sufficient ventilation may not be guaranteed.’
Sisolak says that outdoor dining will no longer have a cap on capacity, meaning patios can completely reopen, and reservations are no longer required. Instead of capping the number of diners at four per table, six people will now be able to dine together.
In addition Sisolak says that if the state’s COVID-19 infections continue to decline and hospitals maintain capacity to handle cases, restaurants and bars can expand capacity to 50 percent on March 15. As long as COVID-19 numbers remain low, he says he will turn over authority to expand openings to counties on May 1.
Adult entertainment establishments, nightclubs, day clubs, and brothels will remain closed until at least May 1.
Sisolak says that gatherings can increase to 35 percent or 100 people, whichever is lower, starting February 15. By March 15, the governor anticipates allowing larger public gatherings, expanded to 250 people or 50 percent capacity.
In January, the state moved hospitality and food service workers ahead in the line to get the COVID-19 vaccine. So far, that group of workers does not have a date to start receiving vaccinations. “I want everybody coming here to know that this is the safest place to come for a vacation. You don’t have to worry about one of the hospitality workers potentially infecting you so, yes, they are prioritized,” Sisolak says. So far, 307,000 Nevadans received the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccination and another 82,000 received the second dose.
The state’s mask mandate and other social distancing requirements remain in place.
The state initially dropped restaurant and bar capacity to 25 percent, implemented mandatory reservations at restaurants and bars, and allowed only four people per table on November 24, a pause the governor extended twice.
Clark County reported 506 new COVID-19 cases and 52 deaths on Thursday, the Southern Nevada Health District reports. Since the pandemic started, the county reported 220,710 cases and 3,577 deaths. The county’s two-week positive rate sits at 15.6 percent, while the state’s overall rate is 14.2 percent.