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Nevada COVID-19 panel OKs reopening bars in Las Vegas, Elko

September 17, 2020 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Bars in and around Las Vegas will be allowed to reopen after this weekend with limited capacity, distance between customers and facial coverings all around, following action Thursday by a Nevada coronavirus response task force.

The panel decided that drinking establishments can also reopen at the same time — midnight Sunday — in Elko County in northeast Nevada.

The votes by the COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force relieved a hot-button issue and relaxed the last of the bar closure orders that Gov. Steve Sisolak re-imposed July 10 to limit social gatherings where alcohol is served in coronavirus pandemic hot spots around the state.

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Sisolak issued a statement crediting people and businesses for 10 weeks of hard work resulting in “COVID-19 data trending in a positive direction, allowing the task force to lift restrictions on bars in counties that previously had ... (high) transmission risk levels.”

Taverns, bars, breweries, distilleries and wineries were allowed to reopen overnight Wednesday-to-Thursday in the Reno-Sparks area, following a previous task force decision.

Nightclubs and other entertainment venues remain closed, although Sisolak said Wednesday he will review coronavirus directives including a 50-person cap on public gatherings and a 50% capacity limit at businesses including casinos. The outcome could affect everything from church congregations to business meetings to political rallies.

Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Fire Chief John Steinbeck told the task force that officials were watching for unregulated gatherings and any uptick in diagnosed cases of COVID-19 following reports of Labor Day weekend gatherings at homes and other places where people congregated.

Task force chief Caleb Cage asked for a report at the panel’s Sept. 24 meeting about what he called “interventions that could be used in the future if there is a considerable spike.”

Cage said Monday that officials expect new coronavirus cases will be diagnosed in coming days after President Donald Trump held campaign rallies with thousands of mostly mask-less supporters outside in Minden on Saturday and indoors in Henderson on Sunday.