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#StayHomeForNevada: An Overview of Nevada’s “Stay at Home” Order and “Essential Business” Rules on the Path toward Reopening

As Governor Steve Sisolak has begun preparing a plan to “reopen” Nevada’s economy, many Nevadans are wondering what changes will be made to the previous orders to stay at home and to close non-essential businesses.  The information below and a series of posts that will follow are intended to clarify the Governor’s primary directives, both those currently in place, as well as new orders that are released at each phase of the Governor’s plan. While this information will summarize the Governor’s orders, a review of the orders and regulations themselves is important to address the specific circumstances of Nevadans, and their businesses, across the state.

Current Directives and Regulations in Nevada

On March 12, 2020, Governor Sisolak declared a state of emergency, in order to take measures to protect the health, safety, and property of Nevadans.  Since then, Governor Sisolak has issued fourteen (14) directives, including an order to close all “non-essential businesses” and an order requiring Nevadans to stay at home, except when necessary to do certain work or other activities.  While Nevadans at large have changed their lifestyles to comply with the Governor’s orders, many remain uncertain about what these directives mean, and specifically, how they impact their jobs, businesses, and families.

What is the “Stay at Home” Order, and Do I Really Need to Stay at Home?

In short, yes — at least for the most part.  The Governor issued the Declaration of Emergency Directive 010 Stay at Home, on March 31, 2020 (the “Stay at Home Order”). The Stay at Home Order directs all Nevadans to stay at home to the extent possible, although they are permitted to leave home to engage in “essential” activities such as obtaining goods and/or services from, or working for, “Essential Licensed Businesses” (within the meaning of that term under the related regulations, discussed below).  Nevadans are also allowed to leave their residences to obtain healthcare services for themselves and others in their households, including their pets, and to engage in outdoor activities, such as hiking, walking, and running (including at those public parks that remain open), so long as the participants live in the same household and maintain at least six feet of distance between them.

What is an Essential Licensed Business?

The Governor’s Declaration of Emergency Directive 003 (“Directive 003”) was signed on March 20, 2020, and required all “Non-Essential Businesses” in Nevada to close by midnight that night.  At the same time, it encouraged Essential Licensed Businesses to remain open, as long as they adopt social distancing practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  

An emergency regulation was passed in connection with Directive 003, to delineate Essential Licensed Businesses from Non-Essential Businesses.  Non-Essential Businesses are those businesses that promote social gathering or extended periods of public interaction and increase risks of exposure to COVID-19, such as gyms and other centers for recreational activities, movie theaters, amusement parks, cosmetic service businesses (e.g., nail salons, tanning salons, and barbershops), retail establishments, and restaurants and other food establishments, except that restaurants and other food services may make sales on a delivery, take-out, curb-side pickup, and/or drive-through basis (as discussed below).

On the other hand, Essential Licensed Businesses include the following:

  • Essential healthcare operations, such as hospitals, medical offices and clinics, home health care providers, mental health providers, physical or occupational therapists, pharmacies and veterinary services;

  • Essential infrastructure operations, including construction, agriculture, utilities, and trash and recycling services;

  • Grocery stores, food pantries, and other retailers that sell food items or other household products for cleaning and personal care;

  • Gas stations and hardware and home improvement stores;

  • Professional or technical services, including legal, accounting, tax, or real estate services;

  • Banks and financial institutions; and

  • Restaurants and food establishments that offer meals on a delivery, take-out, curb-side pickup and/or drive-through basis only.  (Licensed cannabis companies are also able to operate, albeit only on a delivery basis.)

How Long Will the Stay at Home Order Last?

The Stay at Home Order, as well as the other directives made by Governor Sisolak in response to the COVID-19 crisis, will remain in effect until April 30, 2020, unless they are officially extended by another directive.

Is there any Punishment for Refusing to Listen to these Directives?

Yes. Several of the directives enacted by the Governor, including the requirement that all Non-Essential Businesses remain closed, specifically authorize government bodies to investigate and enforce the Governor’s orders.  In the weeks since Directive 003 was instituted, fourteen businesses have been shut down and have had their business licenses suspended for failing to comply with the Governor’s orders.  Offenders who do not comply with the Governor’s orders after receiving a written warning may also face monetary penalties or criminal prosecution.

Sklar Williams PLLC, a Nevada-based firm, has been serving southern Nevada since 1995 and holds the health and well-being of Nevadans as its highest priority.  While the policies and laws at the state, local, and federal levels are developing rapidly in response to the COVID-19 crisis, Sklar Williams remains ready to provide guidance to those seeking to quantify how the crisis has and will affect them and to address how to best adapt to changing business and legal circumstances.  If you have any questions about the effect on you or your business of the newly-enacted directives, laws, or regulations, please contact us.