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The Indy Explains: What ‘essential’ businesses can still operate in Nevada after emergency coronavirus shutdown?

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Michelle Rindels
Michelle Rindels

Gov. Steve Sisolak has ordered — not asked — all nonessential businesses in the state to shut down and cease operations at midnight Friday as part of a monthlong closure to avoid further spread of the novel coronavirus.

But what exactly is an “essential” or “nonessential” business? 

Although state officials have released several general outlines and memorandums detailing the difference, questions have persisted among business owners and others confused as to what constitutes an “essential” business.

The clearest answer yet comes in the form of emergency regulations published and made effective Friday evening by the Department of Public Safety’s Division of Emergency Management. A business that remains open in spite of the regulations could face license revocations and civil or criminal penalties.

The regulations give the most detail yet as to what kinds of businesses are allowed to continue operating during the shutdown period, creating a new category of “essential licensed business” that are allowed to continue limited operations during the shutdown period.

Any “essential licensed business” must follow social distancing guidance, which generally require six feet of separation between persons. They’re also required to cease all door-to-door solicitation, follow applicable hygiene standards and adopt contactless payment systems such as credit cards or programs such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay to avoid direct cash transactions.

Licensed marijuana dispensaries are allowed to continue operations, but must only offer delivery services. Businesses are only allowed to serve one customer or group of customers that originate at the same time or same household — meaning services like Uber Pool are prohibited.

As for stores that sell firearms and ammunition, a 2007 state law explicitly prohibits the state from imposing any restriction on the sale of firearms in an emergency situation, which means those businesses are still allowed to operate.

Additionally, any industry that is identified in a U.S. Department of Homeland Security memorandum on critical infrastructure workforce is allowed and is exempted from the requirements in the order. Any business type not mentioned directly is allowed to continue operations, but cannot do retail sales and has to meet the following requirements, including:

  • Performing operations without contact to the general public
  • Provide services without causing members of the public to congregate closer than six feet together
  • Provide services without causing ten or more people to congregate

The full list of essential and nonessential businesses are below:


Essential health care operations including: 

  • Hospitals
  • Medical offices
  • Clinics
  • Healthcare suppliers
  • Home health care providers
  • Mental health providers
  • Dentists
  • Orthodontists
  • Oral surgeons 
  • Physical or occupational therapists 
  • Speech therapists and pathologists 
  • Chiropractors 
  • Licensed homeopathic medical providers
  • Biomedical facilities 
  • Non-governmental emergency service providers 
  • Optometrist and ophthalmologist offices
  • Offices for certified nurse-midwives
  • Veterinary services 
  • Pharmaceuticals

Essential infrastructure operations including:

  • Construction 
  • Agriculture 
  • Farming
  • Housing construction 
  • Airport operations
  • Water
  • Sewer 
  • Gas
  • Electrical 
  • Mining
  • Public transportation 
  • Solid waste collection and removal
  • Recycling services
  • Energy, including solar 
  • Internet
  • Telecommunications
  • Manufacturing 
  • Food processing

Grocery stores including:

  • Supermarkets 
  • Food banks
  • Food pantries 
  • Soup kitchens 
  • Convenience stores 
  • Farm and produce stands
  • Other retail sale of canned and dry goods, fresh produce, frozen foods, fresh meats, fish, and poultry

Retailers including:

  • Businesses that sell food items and other household consumer products for cleaning and personal care to promote safety, sanitation, and essential operation of households
  • Businesses that sell or rent medical supplies

Businesses that ship or deliver goods directly to residences

  • Mail and shipping services, including PO Boxes
  • Businesses that supply products necessary for people to work from home on a curbside pickup or delivery to consumer basis only

Licensed cannabis entities including: 

  • Dispensaries (delivery only; no curbside pickup)
  • Producers 
  • Cultivators

Pet supply stores

Animal shelters

Financial Institutions including:

  • Banks
  • Pawnbrokers

Restaurants and food establishments that offer meals on a take-out, curbside pickup, delivery, or drive-through basis only and food distribution pods to provide meals to students

Services for vulnerable people

  • Businesses and other entities that provide food, shelter, or social services for economically disadvantaged individuals, vulnerable populations, or victims of crime

Hardware stores, including home improvement centers

Auto services including: 

  • Auto supply
  • Automobile repair facilities 
  • Tire shops

Laundromats and Dry Cleaners

Warehouse and Storage facilities

Transportation services including:

  • Taxicabs
  • Rideshare services

Maintenance services

  • Plumbers
  • Electricians 
  • Exterminators 
  • Home security 
  • Other service providers who provide services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences or businesses

Professional or technical services including:

  • Legal
  • Accounting 
  • Tax
  • Payroll
  • Real estate 
  • Property management services

Child care facilities

Residential facilities including:

  • Shelters for seniors, adults, and children
  • Retirement homes 
  • Assisted living facilities

Media including:

  • Newspapers
  • Television
  • Radio 
  • Other media services 

Lodging including:

  • Hotels and motels
  • Short-term rentals
  • RV parks
  • Campgrounds 
  • Dormitories 
  • Commercial lodging

Gas stations, with or without attached convenience store

Firearm and Ammunition stores


Recreational activities including but not limited to: 

  • Recreation and community centers
  • Sporting event venues
  • Fitness facilities and gyms 
  • Clubhouses
  •  Racetracks 
  • Zoos and aquariums 
  • Golf and country clubhouses not to include golf activities outside clubhouse settings 
  • Bowling centers 
  • Cinemas and movie theaters 
  • Skiing facilities  
  • Amusement parks 

Adult entertainment

  • Brothels and houses of prostitution
  • Live entertainment venues, including theaters and adult entertainment establishments

Retail facilities not defined as essential and that are unable to sell goods through shipping or direct delivery

  • Sporting goods and hobby shops

Restaurant services providing in-house dining only

  • Nightclubs
  • Pubs, wineries, bars and breweries


  • Gaming machines and gaming operations

Beauty and grooming services

  • Hairdressers 
  • Barbers
  • Nail salons 
  • Tanning and air brush salons 
  • Massage not provided by a physical therapist 
  • Waxing
  • Diet and weight loss centers 
  • Other cosmetic services

Museums and art galleries

Liquor stores

3.20 Emergency Regulations by Riley Snyder on Scribd

Updated at 11:49 a.m. on 3/23/20 to include additional information on firearms stores and liquor stores.


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