Nevada’s stay-at-home order was supposed to extend until May 15, but last Thursday, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced that restaurants and some other businesses could reopen this past Saturday as part of the state’s Phase 1 plan.
“The decision came at 3 p.m. and customers started calling at 3:15 to make reservations. We got 30 calls in 15 minutes,” says Sam Marvin, owner of Echo & Rig Butcher and Steakhouse, a restaurant off the Strip. Restaurants in casino hotels cannot open yet.
Marvin says the announcement came as a surprise, with most Nevada restaurateurs thinking it would come around May 22. He doesn’t expect to reopen for dine-in service until around May 19, although the butcher shop has been open and doing a brisk business since the end of March.
Although he has a plan in place, “to reopen, I basically have to start from scratch,” Marvin says. His to-do list includes retraining employees, installing new sanitation equipment, reconfiguring the floor plan and replenishing inventory. “Our seafood supplier hasn’t delivered in six weeks,” he says.
Restaurants in Las Vegas neighborhoods and suburbs were among the first to reopen, following restrictions outlined by the governor. Capacity is limited to 50%, with tables spaced 6 feet apart and no seating at the bar. Reservations are encouraged, disposable menus or menu boards are mandatory and strict sanitation protocols must be enforced.
Nevada has had a low rate of coronavirus deaths, with about 230 confirmed in the state. There has also been a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations—all of which contributed to the governor’s announcement coming earlier than expected.