Bars and taverns statewide will be open for business next week after Nevada’s COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force voted Thursday to open such establishments in Clark and Elko counties amid improving coronavirus metrics.
The task force’s decision comes more than two months after state officials shuttered bars in seven counties statewide as the number of coronavirus cases spiked this summer and represents the culmination of a weeks-long campaign by counties to allow such establishments to reopen, including, most recently, in Washoe County. Clark and Elko counties are the final two counties to be allowed to reopen their bars, taverns, wineries, breweries and distilleries effective 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.
Though Clark and Elko counties remain on the task force’s list of counties at elevated risk for the spread of COVID-19, Caleb Cage, Nevada’s COVID-19 response director and the task force’s chair, said that both counties have made significant progress.
As of Monday, Clark County’s average daily case rate per 100,000 residents was down to 390.2 from a high of 1,006.8 in early August, while Elko’s was down to 232.8 from a high of 518.3 in late July. Counties are considered at risk if their case rate is greater than 200.
Cage lauded the fact that local jurisdictions across Clark County had committed to enforcing COVID-19 health and safety protocols at bars, something he had voiced concern over at a previous meeting. In fact, Clark County submitted a series of letters from bar owners and local jurisdictions voicing their commitment to safety should bars be allowed to open.
“The two items that I think are really helpful to me are the letters, the letters from your bar owners and bar employees as well as from the jurisdictions within Clark County, so Clark County, city of North Las Vegas, city of Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City and Mesquite,” Cage said. “I think they’re all positive changes or positive steps.”
The task force did not, however, consider a request from Clark County on Thursday to allow conventions and churches to operate at 50 percent capacity instead of being subject to the state’s 50-person limit on public gatherings and permit youth sports to resume. Those decisions, Cage said, would have to come from Gov. Steve Sisolak in the form of a new emergency directive.
During a press call on Wednesday, Sisolak said that his administration is continuing to review capacity and gathering limits.
“Any of the changes or new plan related to those would have to be rolled out in the future,” Cage said.
While Clark and Elko counties remain on the task force’s list of at-risk counties this week, Washoe County for the first week was not flagged as having elevated risk of disease transmission after 11 straight weeks of meeting the task force’s risk criteria. Churchill and Eureka counties were also removed from the state’s list this week, while Lyon and Mineral counties were newly added to it.
If Lyon and Mineral counties remain at risk next week, they will be required to present a county action plan to the task force at its meeting next week.