Clark County approves plan to ease COVID restrictions, increase capacity to 80%

The Las Vegas Strip | Photo by Nicola Tolin on Unsplash

Plan would go into effect on May 1

BUSINESSES in the Las Vegas area are set to increase their capacity to 80% at the beginning of May.

Starting May 1, establishments — such as restaurants, bars and gyms — can expand from 50% to 80% capacity, following the Clark County Commissioners’ approval of the mitigation and enforcement proposal.

The plan also reduces social distancing from six to three feet. Capacity and social distancing requirements will be lifted when 60% of the eligible population receives at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The Clark County plan ensures that our region continues to stay vigilant in protecting the health of our residents and visitors to include following common-sense risk reduction measures and continuous comprehensive monitoring/analysis of disease burden factors such as hospital status, test positivity rate, community testing numbers, and COVID cases per week while prioritizing efforts for herd immunity by incentivizing vaccinations,” the county proposal states. “While it is Governor Sisolak’s goal of having every county reopen to 100% on June 1, Clark County is cautiously optimistic we will meet this goal if Southern Nevadans continue with current robust vaccination efforts.”

Governor Steve Sisolak on April 13 announced a goal to have all Nevada counties reopen at 100% capacity for businesses and activities by June 1.

To meet the governor’s target, the statewide social distancing mandate will be removed on May 1 and will be up to the individual counties to enforce their own measures while taking into account local transmission, vaccination and testing needs specific to the communities.

About 44% of Clark County residents 16 and older have received at least vaccination shot. To reach the 60% threshold, over 1.07 million individuals will need to be inoculated.

“Our community has been great so far about getting vaccinated,” said Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick. “If everyone just keeps it up, we’ll get to open up the community 100 percent.”

The plan also expands restaurant seating from six patrons to 12 and buffets will be allowed to return. However, curbside, delivery and takeout options, as well as outdoor seating, will continue to be encouraged.

Dance floors can reopen when the 60% vaccination target is met.
The 80% occupancy will also apply to pools and spas, water parks, libraries and museums, retail stores, indoor malls, karaoke establishments, and community and recreational centers.

Salad bars, salsa bars and other self-service options would be allowed under certain conditions, and food sampling would be allowed at grocery stores and farmer’s markets.

Body art and piercing establishments, spas and massage establishments would remain subject to capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements and services would be subject to appointment only.

Gaming establishments remain under the purview of the Nevada Gaming Control Board but non-gaming areas inside casinos are subject to local control. Elevator capacity would be expanded from 4 persons to eight.

Events with more than 250 attendees would have to submit a Preparedness & Safety Plan to the Clark County Recovery Enforcement Workgroup, outlining testing and screening of participants, managing the flow of people, cleaning and disinfection and other concerns.

A plan also would have to be submitted if more than 250 spectators or attendees is expected. Any full contact league or tournament that resumes after May 1 also would need to submit a Preparedness & Safety Plan.

Large gatherings and events with prior approval from the Nevada Department of Business & Industry (B&I) would be considered approved plans under the local authority.

Those large gatherings and events approved by B&I with stricter capacity and social distance requirements would be able to request approval to comply with the capacity and social distancing requirements as outlined under the County’s proposed plan. Such requests would need to be submitted to the Clark County Recovery Enforcement Workgroup chaired by the Clark County Director of Business License.

Large gatherings with less than 20,000 people could be approved at 3 feet social distancing with up to 80% capacity if: 1) the venue is outdoors or if indoors and the area is well ventilated; and 2) 50% of the community has completed their first dose of a vaccination for COVID-19.

Capacity could increase to 100% with no social distancing with less than 20,000 attendees if: 1) all attendees have either completed their vaccination for COVID-19 at least 14 days prior to the event or are tested using a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test 24 to 48 hours prior to the event and have evidence of a negative test result; 2) the venue is outdoors or if indoors the area is well ventilated; and 3) 50% of the eligible community has completed their first dose of a vaccination.

When 60% of the eligible community has been vaccinated, capacity at large gathering venues could increase to 100% with no social distancing. At that time, event organizers would no longer need to submit large gathering plans.

Until social distancing is removed, all concerts including live music and DJ entertainment, sporting events or other such events would have assigned seating. Fairs, conventions and other similar gatherings could have general admission.

Plans for events with general admission that are outdoors and events greater than 20,000 attendees could be submitted for review by the Southern Nevada Health District on a case-by-case basis to include taking into consideration current or projected conditions within the community.

Adult entertainment establishments also could operate under strict social distancing requirements at no more than 80% capacity but entertainers must be at least three feet from members of the public if the entertainer has taken the first dose of the vaccine and only after 14 days of the vaccination date. The entertainer must complete the second dose of the vaccine within six weeks of taking the first dose, if applicable. Or, the entertainer must take a weekly COVID PCR test and receive a negative result.

Nightclubs and dayclubs would be able to operate at 80% occupancy. Until 60% of the eligible population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, designated areas for dancing must remain closed. Once the designated areas for dancing are permitted in a non-restricted gaming license location, they would be considered “club venues” and also would fall under the authority of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

The plan is set to be reviewed by the state’s COVID Task Force for approval.

The statewide mask mandate will remain in effect when counties take over local authority on May 1.

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