Reno to shut down bars, nightclubs, gyms and restaurants to combat coronavirus

Image by David Mark from Pixabay
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, Reno is shutting down bars, nightclub, gyms and restaurants, Mayor Hillary Schieve announced Monday.

In an afternoon press conference, the mayor phrased the effort as a shutdown of “non-essential” businesses and said grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and medical would remain open. Later, the city issued a follow-up statement saying the mandatory closures only apply to bars, nightclubs, gyms and restaurants. Takeout, delivery and drive-thru restaurants are exempted, though they must close any dine-in options. The statement also said casinos are allowed to operate their gaming but must follow new restrictions set by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Dining areas and bars within casinos must shut down.

The mandatory closures are in place until April 5 but may be extended, according to the press release. Businesses affected by the closure have been told to wind down operations beginning tomorrow and are expected to be closed by 5 p.m. Friday.

“I know there was some confusion around the announcement, so I just want to clarify that these are businesses where groups of people tend to congregate,” Schieve said in a statement. “Let me also clarify that all businesses are essential. I am simply trying to limit areas of high-exposure risk.”

“This is the appropriate measure considering the circumstances,” said Schieve during the original press conference. “If this is what we have to do to protect this community from this virus, this is absolutely what we need to do.”

During the original press conference, Schieve said Washoe County Health District made the call that closures be mandatory rather than recommended. However, the Reno Gazette Journal is reporting the county health district said they did not push for mandatory closure.

Reno’s original decision came hours after the announcement of Nevada’s first COVID-19 death, a Clark County man in his 60s. It also came one day after several gaming properties in Las Vegas announced they are voluntarily closing their doors temporarily. MGM Resorts is closing all of its properties: Bellagio, Aria, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Delano, Park, Mirage, New York-New York, Luxor and Excalibur. Wynn Resorts is closings its two properties: Wynn and Encore.

Jace Radke, a spokesman with the City of Las Vegas, said Mayor Carolyn Goodman “is not currently planning to ask local businesses to close.”

Governors across the country have also been asking businesses to shut down. Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois governors have asked all bars and restaurants to shut down while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with governors from Connecticut and New Jersey, asked gyms and casinos to shut down while bars and restaurants remain open to allow take out orders.

“As you know, the situation is rapidly developing and unfolding,” Meghin Delaney, the spokeswoman for the Nevada Health Response Center. “The governor supports any businesses who make the difficult decision to close or limit services to customers. As he has done with other industries, the governor encourages bars and restaurant owners to do what they can to take care of their employees during this time.

This story has been updated with additional details about closures statewide and to reflect new statements from the City of Reno.

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.
Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.