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Nevada governor orders new directive, targets gatherings with civil, criminal penalties

Posted at 10:00 PM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 09:13:22-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — There are new, tougher social distancing restrictions handed down by Gov. Steve Sisolak on Wednesday, which prohibits in-person gatherings of 10 or more people, including for religious reasons, among other changes.

Open Arms Community Church located near Sahara Avenue and Rancho Drive had been preparing for a big Easter service for months, telling 13 Action News their religious activities are essential.

"Go. Sisolak needs to come out and say churches are essential because if you're gonna make alcohol essential, church should be essential," said Pastor Joseph Guy in an interview on Tuesday.

WATCH: Las Vegas pastor holding in-person Easter service, citing First Amendment

Pastor Guy was moving ahead with plans to have 35 worshipers inside the church building, with an additional overflow, drive-in movie style service in the parking lot Sunday evening.

"We have low-frequency FM radio transmitters that people can sit in their cars comfortably and tune in and listen and watch on the big screen," explained Pastor Guy.

On Wednesday, Gov. Sisolak made a directive that prohibits this type of gathering.


"This new directive makes it clear that places of worship are prohibited from holding in-person worship services with ten or more people, including drive-in and pop up services for the duration of the declaration of this emergency," said Gov. Sisolak.

The governor added people caught defying the order face consequences.

"And those individuals, to my understanding, are subject to civil and criminal penalties, both," said Gov. Sisolak.

13 Investigates has learned Open Arms Community Church announced in a Facebook video posted on Wednesday, it will not allow worshipers inside the building on Easter Sunday, citing safety and a tight budget.

"It is not lost on me that we are entering the holiest period of many major religions and I know families want to get together to observe these high holidays," said Gov. Sisolak.

"It was not an easy decision," added Gov. Sisolak.

The directive also forces showrooms such as car dealerships, furniture stores, or any other type of store which encourages customers to touch or browse items that could easily spread COVID-19, according to the governor.

The directive bans outdoor sporting events or activities which encourage people to gather in groups of 10 or more, including basketball courts, and any publicly accessible pools.

The governor's directive also shuts down golf courses, which were originally deemed essential businesses and were allowed to remain open.

RELATED: PREVIOUS STORY: Gov. Sisolak orders all nonessential businesses in the state to shut down

The governor affirmed that decision on Monday but then made the change due to public feedback.

"I've had a multitude of pictures sent to me that showed people were not practicing good social distancing, they were not riding one in a cart, they were congregating on the greens, and I cannot take the chance of having it spread that way," said Gov. Sisolak.

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Nevada resident and prolific golfer OJ Simpson reacted to the decision in a twitter video.

"I thought the golfers were doing a pretty good job on the social distancing with the one carts and all that, but this is a serious situation," said Simpson.

Simpson added he supported the governor's decision.

Simpson has been living in Las Vegas since 2017 when he was paroled from a Nevada prison for his part in the 2007 robbery scheme of sports memorabilia at a Las Vegas hotel.

He was previously acquitted in 1995 of the double murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in California.