LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Another major milestone is set for May 1 when Nevada businesses and industries can operate at higher capacities and reduced social distancing requirements but a doctor is urging caution for those who are in key risk groups and people who have not been fully vaccinated.
Nevada authorities are set to transfer state-controlled COVID-19 mitigation efforts, such as capacity limits, the types of industries that can operate and social distancing requirements to local control.
The level of mitigation efforts will depend upon the county and local jurisdiction.
In Clark County, Nevada's most populous, officials have said most businesses can open at 80% capacity and social distancing is reduced to three feet.
"We're basically going from 50% capacity with six-foot social distancing to an 80% capacity with four-foot social distancing," explained Bobby Kingston, owner of Saddle 'N' Spurs Saloon near Smoke Ranch Road and Jones Boulevard in Las Vegas.
Kingston admits the changing COVID protocols have been an exhausting and expensive proposition throughout the last year.
He has reconfigured his bar top, removed gaming machines and spaced out patrons to allow for the protocols as laid out by state and local leaders over a period of 14 months.
"It is very complicated, there's a lot to it," said Kingston.
"There are some adjustments we still have to make and we're looking forward to getting to a 60% vaccination rate here in the valley so we can bring dancing and whatnot back, we're still not there but we're getting very close," said Kingston.
As of Friday, almost 47% of people in Clark County who are 16 years and older have received at least one dose.
The next limit increase could come on June 1 which would allow businesses to operate at 100% capacity, if the 60% vaccination rate is met in Clark County.
"It makes a huge difference in our ability to have more customers in our business," said Kingston.
The relaxing restrictions come with the urging of caution from medical professionals.
"I think certainly, we are inching closer to more of a comfort zone but still people who are vulnerable, who are at risk, especially those who have not been vaccinated, the elderly population, this is not the time to totally relax and get overly confident," said Dr. Jonathan Baktari from e7Health.com.
Dr. Baktari points out COVID protocol fatigue is a real danger and failing to follow safety measures can set progress backward.
"We are still seeing cases and unfortunately we're still seeing some deaths, so I know it's trickling down but it's not gone and it's not time to relax especially if you're in those categories," explained Dr. Baktari.
Nevada remains under a statewide mask mandate.
Gov. Steve Sisolak was pressed on when the mandate could be lifted but he did not commit to a time frame or reveal any specific number or COVID metric he would use to make the determination.