What’s considered an essential business? Here’s what we know

a retailer closes shop
Shoe Palace on Monday, March 16, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo: Bridget Bennett)

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Tuesday all “non-essential” businesses across the state should shut down by noon Wednesday in order to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis. He stressed the importance of social distancing (meaning staying six feet away from one another) and rebuked a question from a reporter who asked about potential loopholes, saying in no uncertain terms: “People are dying. Every day that is delayed here, I’m losing a dozen people on the back end that are going to die as a result of this.”

Still, his announcement left many with a lot of questions.

More details were provided Wednesday through a guidance document distributed by Nevada Health Response, the team created by the governor to coordinate and release information about COVID-19.

Let’s get this part out of the way: Marijuana dispensaries “should only remain open if employees and customers strictly adhere to the social distancing protocol.” It encourages customers to use delivery services and avoid congregating in stores.

Essential services and sectors include:

  • Fire services, law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services & public safety agencies
  • Healthcare services
  • Businesses or organizations that provide food, shelter, or critical social services for disadvantaged populations
  • Utilities as defined in NRS Chapter 704
  • Trash collection
  • Home maintenance/repair services
  • Auto repair services & trucking service centers
  • Grocery stores, supermarkets, hardware stores, convenience & discount stores
  • Pharmacies, healthcare operations, & biomedical facilities
  • Post offices & shipping outlets
  • Gas stations & truck stops
  • Banks & financial institutions
  • Veterinary services & pet stores
  • Laundromats & dry cleaners
  • Food processing
  • Agriculture, livestock & feed mills
  • Logistics & Supply Chain Operations: Warehousing, storage, distribution, and supply-chain related operations
  • Public transportation
  • Essential stays in hotels, commercial lodging, dormitories, shelters, and homeless encampments
  • Child care centers and daycares operating in accordance with requirements set forth by their licensing authorities and COVID-19 guidance

Restaurants and drinking establishments with full kitchens are allowed to remain open but should close their dine-in options and only provide drive-thru, take-out or delivery. The release clarifies that this includes food courts, coffee shops, catered events, clubs, bowling alleys “and other similar venues in which people congregate for the consumption of food.”

The release also states that “Other businesses, including but not limited to legal services, business and management consulting, professional services and insurance services are encouraged to have employees work remotely or telecommute.”

Non-essential services are:

  • Entertainment & hospitality, including but not limited to strip clubs and brothels, casinos, concert venues, arenas, auditoriums, stadiums, large conference rooms, meeting halls, and cafeterias
  • Recreation and athletic facilities, including community and recreation centers, gyms, health clubs, fitness centers, yoga, barre and spin facilities
  • Beauty and personal care services and facilities, including barber shops, beauty, tanning, waxing hair salons, and nail salons and spas
  • Retail facilities, including shopping malls (except for pharmacy or other health care facilities within retail operations)

The release also includes a list of activities to avoid:

  • Group gatherings
  • Sleepovers
  • Concerts and theater outings
  • Playdays
  • Athletic events
  • Visitors in your house
  • Non-essential workers in your house
  • Shopping in malls
  • Workouts in gyms

The release emphasizes that these lists are not comprehensive and that the governor and public health official will be revisiting the topic regularly.

The overarching guidance provided by the Nevada Health Response is: Ask yourself this question: “Where do people get within 6 feet of other individuals for an extended period of time?” — then avoid those areas.

You can download the entire release here: NV Health Response COVID19

April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. April currently serves on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists Las Vegas pro chapter. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, two children and three mutts.