RENO, Nev. (AP) — Washoe County will be Nevada’s only county that won’t assume full local control of COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday after the health district officer and others refused to endorse a plan for the Reno-Sparks area because of the proposed elimination of social-distancing mandates.
But many Reno-Sparks businesses would be allowed to operate at full capacity as early as next week under a pending revised plan if they have enough space to still comply with the 6-foot (1.8-meter) distance requirement, Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick said Thursday.
He expects the county commission to approve the revised plan on Monday and state approval to follow in the days after that.
Nevada’s COVID-19 mitigation task force has approved local control plans for all the other counties, including Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County where capacity limits will increase Saturday from the current state-mandated 50% to 80% and social distancing will be reduced to 3 feet (1 meter).
Nevada's May 1 reopening list also includes limited, masked-visitation at state prisons for the first time Saturday since all visitation was suspended last March.
Masks will remain mandatory statewide under Gov. Steve Sisolak’s latest directive that allows individual counties to assume full control of COVID-19 restrictions by June 1 and begin moving to full capacity on Saturday in all the other counties with approved local plans.
Many counties are dropping all capacity and social-distancing requirements effective Saturday. Clark County’s plan removes all capacity and social distancing requirements when 60% of the 1.8 million county residents receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
That figure stood at 46.5% as of Tuesday in Clark County, 44.7% statewide and 51.5% in Washoe County.
On Thursday, Sisolak joined state regulators, casino executives and union officials at a vaccination clinic at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas to help promote what he says is an important months-long push to to get more shots in workers' arms ahead of the state’s full economic opening.
“The neon lights are once again shining brightly. And we are on our way toward a full reopening by June 1," the first-term Democrat said. “To continue this success and reach our goal, the work being highlighted today must continue.”
The task force balked at Washoe County’s initial re-opening plan last week after county commissioners dropped the social-distancing requirements that health officer Dick, the school district and the city of Reno had insisted be part of the package to secure their necessary endorsements.
Dick told reporters Thursday the revised plan to be considered Monday restores the 6-foot distancing mandate through June 1, when social distancing limits would be phased out.
Dick said the Washoe County plan he expects the county commission to approve Monday will continue the current 6-foot social-distancing requirement through the end of May.
“But it will provide for people to be able to operate without a capacity limit as long as they’re providing the appropriate social distancing as (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines direct,” he said.
The pending plan would relax limits on party sizes at restaurants and bars so that up to 10 people could be seated together, Dick said.
“It will allow for bar service as long as social distancing is maintained. It will allow for hot tubs and spas to be reopened,” he said. “There’s a number of measures to loosen the mitigations required.”