Nevada relaxes restrictions in move toward convention industry reboot

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Gov. Steve Sisolak speaking to the press about the coronavirus in February. (Nevada Current file photo)
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Gov. Steve Sisolak speaking to the press about the coronavirus in February. (Nevada Current file photo)

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak made a direct pitch Tuesday to businesses planning conventions and trade shows: Come back.

The message was part of relaxed restrictions on gatherings announced by the governor. As of Oct. 1, the limit on weddings, church services and other gatherings will rise from 50 people to 250 people or 50 percent of capacity, whichever is less. Those limits don’t include staff working the event.

Large venues with capacity of 2,500 or more will be allowed to admit up to 10 percent of total seating capacity, according to a revised state guidance for gatherings document.

Those large venues first must get a safety plan approved by the state. They must also confine attendees to 250-person “pods” with designated entrances and exits, and people have to stay within their pods so as to prevent “cross-pollination,” Sisolak said.

Asked about Nevada’s rising-again coronavirus positivity rate, Sisolak said he is confident the state is effectively past any post-Labor Day case surges.

Reported Covid cases have been dropping in Nevada since July, although the 7-day average of 456 cases reported over the last week was a 73 percent increase over the average two weeks ago.

The Las Vegas Strip is “the fuel that keeps this state running,” Sisolak said while making a pitch to businesses to host their conventions in Las Vegas.

The governor cast shade on Nevada’s competitors in the convention hosting industry, saying while other states have lifted all restrictions, “Nevada is not only open for business. We plan to be open for the long term” by “preventing a roller-coaster” of Covid caseloads.

Addressing prospective business conventions directly, Sisolak said Nevada “will be the safest destination” and a “gold standard for safety” for conventions and trade shows. As other states with more relaxed restrictions try to lure events, convention schedulers need to remember “you deserve better,” the governor said.

Sisolak was also asked about the prospect of schools reopening. He noted that under state directives the authority to open schools is delegated to individual school districts.

The governor said he will announce the relaxation of restrictions on youth and recreational sports within a week to ten days.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.