The line between an essential and nonessential business becomes clearer in Washoe County

The Brewers Cabinet in Midtown Reno is offering curbside food service - image - The Sierra Nevada Ally

In Reno and Washoe County, the closing of nonessential businesses in response to the novel coronavirus has happened by degrees. On March 16, Reno Mayor Hillary Shieve closed all restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and “nonessential businesses” to great confusion among Reno business owners. What was or what was not an essential business was broadly and ill-defined.

The following day, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak declared a statewide state of emergency that closed all “nonessential businesses” to include casinos, restaurants, beauty parlors and other businesses more specifically listed. The line between essential and nonessential became clearer.

Despite the Governor’s declaration, some gaming houses and other businesses in Las Vegas reportedly defied the closure. So on March 19, Governor Sisolak issued another emergency declaration and ordered all nonessential businesses closed at threat of civil and criminal penalties.

Today, Washoe County issued the most comprehensive delineation of essential and nonessential businesses to date. According to the County, these regulations are subject to change as conditions change.

All emergency medical services, hospitals, ambulances, and paramedics are fully operational so long as they maintain social distancing and biological safety protocols.

Businesses or organizations that provide critical services for disadvantaged populations including food, shelter or critical social services can operate within safe social distancing protocols.

On Saturday evening, the major homeless shelters in Reno closed. The City opened the Downtown Events Center to house people. The new nonessential business regulations enable such a move.

During the state of emergency, local agencies may allow businesses or organizations that provide food, shelter, or critical social services for disadvantaged populations to operate in locations and for durations not otherwise permitted by applicable local government ordinances.

Other essential licensed businesses and service sectors include the following businesses:

  • Healthcare providers, operations, and biomedical facilities
  • Pharmacies
  • Grocery stores and supermarkets
  • Utilities
  • Trash collection
  • Home maintenance/repair services
  • Auto repair services and trucking service centers
  • Vehicle towing
  • Hardware stores
  • Convenience and discount stores, which do not include establishments primarily engaged in retailing packaged alcoholic beverages
  • Shipping outlets
  • Gas stations and truck stops
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Veterinary services and pet stores
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners
  • Food processing
  • Agriculture, livestock, and feed mills
  • Logistics and supply chain operations (warehousing, storage, distribution, and supply chain related operations)
  • Air transportation
  • Ground passenger transportation/passenger terminal
  • Vehicle rental
  • Equipment rental
  • Childcare centers and daycares operating in accordance with requirements set forth by licensing authorities and COVID19 guidance
  • Elder care / assisted living facilities
  • Security services

The County encourages these business types to continue operations, but they must adopt COVID -19 risk mitigation measures that reduce the risk of disease spread.

The businesses must provide curbside pickup or delivery of goods whenever possible. They must also ensure that customers picking up or accepting delivery of goods maintain adequate social distancing practices by not congregating within a minimum of six feet of separation between each other as practicable.

This social distancing requirement does not apply to persons residing in the same household.

Essential stays in hotels, commercial lodging, and dormitories: Worth noting for many living in weekly-rental motels, local agencies will not further define or limit which stays are considered essential and will allow essential stays to exceed the 28 day limit otherwise applicable to lodging facilities.

Retail Cannabis, both medical and adult use are served by delivery only.

Combination Businesses

Businesses that provide a combination of essential and non essential services shall be considered essential only if a majority of interior floor area is dedicated to essential products and services, all display areas and sales of non-essential products and services are closed to the public using physical barriers, or the applicable local agency determines that the essential products and services provided are not otherwise available to the community.

Nonessential Businesses

Entertainment/hospitality establishments, recreational/athletic/fitness establishments, beauty and personal care services, and other businesses that promote recreational social gatherings and/or promote an extended period of public interaction where the risk of transmission is high including, but not limited to:

● Community and recreation centers
● Clubhouses
● Nightclubs, bars, lounges and taverns
● Movie theaters
● Massage parlors
● Tattoo parlors
● Adult entertainment establishments
● Brothels
● Live entertainment venues (concert venues, arenas, auditoriums, stadiums, etc.)
● Stadiums
● Large conference rooms
● Meeting halls
● Cafeterias
● Gyms
● Health clubs
● Fitness centers and studios
● Yoga, barre, and spin facilities
● Beauty shops
● Barber shops
● Nail salons
● Tanning salons
● Wax salons
● Establishments primarily engaged in retailing packaged alcoholic beverages, such as ale, beer, wine, and liquor, principally operating under NAICS Code 445310.

Retail Establishments not Specifically Listed

Must be closed to the public effective March 20, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Operations may be modified to operate only as an online or phone order business delivering purchased products directly to customers in accordance with the following criteria:

● Retail locations are closed to the public
● Ordering and payment is completed via phone, email, online service, or similar remote payment method
● All products are shipped or delivered
● The business adheres to all additional operational requirements required for essential businesses

Professional Services

Legal Services, consulting and insurance are examples. The County recommends to have employees work remotely or telecommute. If that is not possible, establishments should institute strict social distancing practices as set forth by the Nevada Health Response Center and CDC.

Construction, Mining, Manufacturing and Infrastructure 

May continue operations, but must adopt policies and practices that ensure minimum contact between the workforce and the general public. Comply with any applicable COVID-19 risk mitigation procedures as described in the memorandum dated March 18, 2020 from the Nevada Department of Business and Industry.

Other Businesses Not Defined

May continue operations if they are able to implement social distancing safeguards for the protection of their employees and perform operations without contact with the general public; or to the extent practicable, provide services without causing members of the general public to congregate in a manner contrary to social distancing goals of a minimum of six feet of separation for more than incidental contact; or provide services without causing more than ten members of the general public to congregate.

The new novel coronavirus business regulations have many provisions for restaurants.

Restaurants may continue serving the public, but shall cease onsite dining effective March 20, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.

Operations shall adhere to the following:

● Must close onsite dining areas, bars, and other interior gathering spaces effective March 20, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.
● May continue serving the public for off-site consumption through take-out, drive-through,
curbside pickup, or delivery capacity
● Must adopt COVID-19 risk mitigation policies
● To the extent practicable, ensuring that customers receiving orders outside the food establishment maintain adequate social distancing practices by not congregating within a minimum of six feet of separation between each other
● To the extent practicable, disallowing the formation of queues whereby persons congregate in a manner that violates the social distancing guidelines above.
● Adopting contactless payment systems whenever possible
● All food workers must strictly abide by all applicable hygiene guidelines including handwashing and glove requirements
● Follow United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sanitization recommendations, including disinfecting surfaces routinely and at frequent intervals throughout the workday
● Providing curbside pickup, or delivery of goods is preferred; however inside pickup is allowed if:
○ All dining room, bar and seating areas are closed using signs and/or physical barriers;
○ Waiting and queuing areas are signed and sized to maintain social distancing guidelines;
○ All entry door handles are disinfected at least every 30 minutes with disposable paper
towels or napkins provided so customers may enter and exit without directly contacting door handles.

• Areas used for production of alcoholic beverages may operate in accordance with standards for manufacturing
• Areas used for restaurants may operate in accordance with standards for restaurants (no on-site dining)
• Onsite pickup of packaged alcoholic beverages is only allowed in conjunction with an operating restaurant. Facilities without restaurants must ship or deliver alcoholic beverages

For more, see the COVID-19 Business Operations Guide