During a Thursday meeting, the Nevada COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force decided to dismiss the requests of Clark, Elko, Nye, and Washoe counties to open bars. Bars in those counties will have to stay closed for at least two more weeks.
Nevada’s Bars Remain Closed, Says Mitigation Task Force
Nevada’s bars will remain closed, members of the state COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force said, rejecting requests to allow bars and taverns to continue business in Clark, Elko, Nye, and Washoe counties.
The task force did issue an approval for non-bar countertops in Clark County starting on Monday, next week, though. Members of the task force met on Thursday and discussed whether to reopen non-bar countertops by September 9 but ultimately decided against it.
The measures extend to taverns, wineries, breweries and bars, which will have to stay closed for at least two more weeks when the task force will reconvene and examine the issue once again. Originally, Nevada tried to allow bars to continue operating with reduced capacity and social distancing in place, but bars were once again shut in early July and have been so ever since.
Commenting on this decision, Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick acknowledged the impact of the decision, arguing that the affected people were many. Yet, she also sought clarity and argued that she failed to understand the logic:
“If a sushi bar can’t open their countertop, I want to understand what the science behind that is? If there is an establishment that has Plexiglass at their countertop in between different partition eaters, I’d like to know why that is any different than sitting across from somebody at lunch.”
However, Nevada’s COVID-19 Response Director Caleb Cage said that the August results were reassuring and he would not want to risk upsetting the progress by loosening up the measures. The main objective is to avoid returning to “dangerously high levels of infection.”
Task Force’s Recommendations Yield Positive Results
Cage also explained that even the White House considers Nevada to be a “red zone” and that Nevada should work actively towards improving infection rates across the board before it can return to normal.
He argued against the claim that the response committee was acting out on a whim and explained that Nevada depended on out-of-state visitors for revenue. “All those states in the country are watching the outbreak in Nevada to determine whether or not they’re going to impact our economy by allowing visitors here or not,” Cage clarified.
Making visitors and other states feel comfortable with the situation in Nevada would allow the Silver State to see more people returning to the gaming venues in Las Vegas and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, task force members agreed with the measures and said that there had been a significant improvement in the infection rates between July and August, reported at 17% and 12.6% for both months respectively.
Not Everyone Agrees with the Measures
However, this still constitutes twice the recommended level. However, Health and Human Services Director Richard Whitley has sided with Kirkpatrick in a sense. According to Whitley, keeping everyone under lock and key would lead to another epidemic with people struggling with mental health issues.
Opening up some venues could allow avoiding what Whitley described as emotional fallout. The task force was created in early August to replace the so-called phased approach to reopening the state. Now, the task force is in charge of reopening state’s counties by conducting and calculating tests and positive infections per day per 100,000 people over a 30-day period.
Any counties that exceed the criteria outlined by the task force would need to work closely with the organization and seek to implement protocols that would allow them to tackle what is considered a high rate of infections.
Cage did argue that none of the task force members wanted arbitrary mitigation policies and that it was important for local government to comply with the organization which is structured directly under Gov. Steve Sisolak. This is not the first time that the task force has decided to reject calls from Clark, Elko and Washoe to allow bars to reopen.
Meanwhile, casinos in New Jersey are resuming smoking and drinking on Friday, September 4.