Sisolak orders capacity reductions in Nevada

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a directive Sunday strengthening his mask mandate and reducing capacity in casinos, restaurants, and bars from 50% to 25% and even placed a restriction on home gatherings, but he avoided a shutdown of businesses for now.

The directive which Sisolak called “a pause” goes into effect Tuesday and will remain in effect for three weeks. Sisolak shuttered casinos for 2½ months from mid-March to early June over the coronavirus.

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Sisolak, who more than a week ago warned about the state’s rising caseload and urged people to stay at home, made the announcement Sunday night while he is recovering from the coronavirus. He said he has no symptoms.

Sisolak has now required that masks must be worn by Nevada residents and visitors at all times indoors and outdoors when you are around someone who is not part of the same household. Masks will be required now at all times within gyms, other than when someone is taking a drink.

The new restrictions require people to make reservations at restaurants and no walk ins will be accepted, including at casinos.

Sisolak, who said the Gaming Control Board will oversee the regulation, added that he’s talked to gaming operators over the last 24 hours.

“I can assure you the full force of the Nevada Gaming Control Board will be behind the implementation and enforcement of the 25% requirement,” Sisolak said. “If they don’t follow them, they will suffer the consequences as delineated by the Gaming Control Board.”

Sisolak said he put in the directive because cases continue to rise and feared hospitals would be overwhelmed with cases and threaten the healthcare system. He said he will monitor the caseload over the next three weeks and warned there could be business closures and group size limits if it doesn’t improve.

Retail establishments, including indoor malls, will not have to change their capacity during the pause and can continue operating at 50%.

Stronger action will be targeted at high-risk settings and may include: prohibition of indoor dining and service at restaurants and bars; and closure of gyms and fitness facilities.

“That is what is in our future if our trends do not improve,” Sisolak said.

Even the governor’s limit on gatherings, including meetings and church services, that was raised from 50 to 250 earlier this fall has been cut back to 50 or 25% of capacity, whatever is less. Any conventions or meetings scheduled for greater than 50 need to be canceled, Sisolak said.

In addition to public gatherings, this statewide pause will also include new and necessary limitations on private social gatherings. They will be restricted to 10 people or fewer, from no more than two households — whether indoors or outdoors.

“We know a significant source of spread is right in our homes – and we must do all that we can to prevent it,” Sisolak said. “I am hopeful that these restrictions announced today going into effect on Tuesday will help reduce our caseload.

“I don’t want to impose further restrictions, but we are too close to the real solution, the vaccines, to give up now. I remain encouraged by the developments with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

“There is a light at the end of this tunnel, and we are getting closer,” Sisolak continued. “But we don’t have a vaccine yet.”

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