On Monday afternoon, the City of Sparks, Washoe County and the Washoe County Health District announced that they would not be joining the City of Reno in mandating that certain “non-essential” businesses close their doors in response to the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
During a virtual press conference on Monday, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve first announced that all “non-essential” businesses would be forced to close by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, to include bars, gyms and restaurants among others.
“People will die if we don’t do this,” she said during the press conference.
In a written statement, the Health District took a different position. “At this time, the Washoe County Health District has no mandate to close any establishments in Washoe County. The Health District supports business closures and cancelation of large public events to reduce risk of transmission of COVID-19, but it is not mandatory at this time.”
Reno, however, does have the authority to mandate that businesses within city limits close their doors, though the deadline for this was then extended to Friday, March 20, and the definition for “non-essential” businesses was clarified to include only gyms, bars, night clubs and restaurants without take-out or delivery options, leaving confusion among residents and business owners.
Online, the responses from businesses and their patrons were mixed, with some calling the measure extreme even as others said they agreed with it.
It was also announced, after Schieve’s press conference that the City of Reno would not attempt to force casino closures. It was explaained that the decision fell under the purview of, and would be left to, the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
In addition to the announced forced closures, other businesses in the last week announced closures made of their own volition, to include most of Lake Tahoe’s ski resorts.
However, the matter of whose doors would have to close when was put to rest late Tuesday afternoon, just a day after Schieve’s announcement, when Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak addressed the state’s citizens to say that all “non-essential” businesses, to include not only bars and restaurants (without take-out or delivery) but also salons and even casinos, must close. Gambling establishments were ordered to close by midnight on Tuesday turning Wednesday. Bars were given until noon on Wednesday, March 18.
“Stay Home For Nevada” was the phrase used on signage at Sisolak’s announcement.
The business closures were ordered to last 30 days. They do not apply to essential services such as police, fire departments, grocery stores, hospitals or pharmacies.