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Derek Stevens, center, owner of The D Las Vegas, sits at the Long Bar on Thursday, June 4, 2020. Nevada casinos reopened after more than two months closed because of COVID-19. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Gov. Steve Sisolak is ordering bars to close at midnight on Friday in seven of Nevada’s 17 counties that the state is deeming at risk of elevated disease transmission.

Counties will be considered at risk of spreading the disease if they meet two of three criteria established by the state, including a low number of average number of tests per day, a high rate of new cases or a significant case rate coupled with a low test positivity rate. Those determined to be an “Elevated Disease Transmission” county will be subject to Sisolak’s new restrictions, which were announced at a press conference Thursday evening.

As of Friday, seven counties — Clark, Washoe, Elko, Humboldt, Lander, Lyon and Nye — were deemed at risk and will be forced to close bars, pubs, taverns, distilleries, breweries, and wineries that don’t serve food. Those counties, combined, make up about 94.6 percent of the state’s population.

Additionally, restaurants statewide will be required to limit parties to no more than six, whether for indoor or outdoor dining.

In a press release, the governor’s office said it would reevaluate the data in those seven counties in two weeks, on July 24, and that they will need to show positive trends out of two of the three listed criteria in order to re-open, as well as submit to state health officials a written reopening plan, including mitigation initiatives and plans for compliance.

Other counties will be evaluated on an ongoing basis and, if deemed at elevated risk of disease transmission, would be put on their own two-week rolling timeline.

The directive also indicates that the state may change or modify the reopening criteria to take into account other factors such as hospital capacity.

Guidance on the directive published Friday also states that bar areas inside of casinos or taverns must remain closed. Bartops and bar areas must be closed to customers, and, while bar drinks can be served, they must be done through table service and not ordered at a bar.

Sisolak, at a press conference Thursday night, said the new measures were aimed at quelling the increased spread of COVID-19 through the state, which has seen sizable upticks in cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks.

During that press conference, Sisolak said he had spoken with federal health officials who warned that Nevada would soon be in a “precarious condition where hospitals are overwhelmed with patients” if the state did not take “swift policy action” to limit spread of the virus.

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