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Business leaders slam Sisolak on slow reopening plans

Updated April 29, 2020 - 10:25 pm

Nevada businesses are upset with Gov. Steve Sisolak’s slow rollout plan for reopening the state.

“It’s really frustrating,” said Erika Pearce, owner of Local Vape in Henderson. “It’s a ridiculous way of holding people hostage and not knowing.”

Sisolak appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday and gave some vague outlines of what he will announce Thursday — the day his stay-at-home order was set to expire. id not give an end date for the extension.

Sisolak’s staff did not respond to a request for comment, but he issued a directive late Wednesday extending the stay-at-home order until at least May 15. The directive also allowed non-essential businesses and marijuana dispensaries to operate curbside starting May 1. Gaming will remain closed with no date of resuming in the directive.

Bryan Wachter, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the Retail Association of Nevada, said if the governor knew what he was planning he should announce as soon as possible instead of waiting.

“It’s not as simple as saying we’re opening a business on Friday,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s not really possible to open a business so quickly.”

The governor also told anchor Amy Robach during the interview that casinos would not reopen “until the third or fourth phase” of Nevada’s phased-in reopening plan.

Public opinion

The association released a survey Wednesday of 376 Nevada residents that showed a steep increase in how many people feel the governor is mishandling the coronavirus crisis.

On March 23, only 18 percent of people rated Sisolak’s performance as poor or very poor, but that more than doubled to 38 percent in the survey, which the organization said had a 5 percent margin of error. Fifty-one percent of people still believe he is handling the outbreak well or very well — down from 64 percent in March.

The survey also showed that concern about the virus is waning.

On March 23, 53 percent of respondents rated the virus at the highest concern level, while the new survey shows the number dropped to 32 percent of respondents.

Randi Thompson, Nevada chapter president of the National Federation of Independent Business, said businesses have to know whether the closure is going to continue for a month or end next week.

“The governor doesn’t understand the supply chain,” she said. “We’ve been preparing to open May 1 and now you can’t. If you’re a restaurant, you have all this inventory of food. What are you going to do with it? We just want transparency.”

Other states

In contrast to Nevada, governors in neighboring states gave businesses some notice.

On Sunday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told businesses such as tattoo shops, hair salons and dog groomers they can reopen Friday with strict distancing and cleaning precautions, such as masks and sanitation regimes, according to a news release. Starting Monday, offices around the state can operate at half capacity. Major cities in Colorado have restrictions that go past the state’s orders.

Last week, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced that he plans to ease restrictions Friday, pointing out he wants to give residents and businesses as much notice as possible.

“We want people to be ready and anticipate this will happen,” he said at a news conference.

Pearce said she had to layoff three people and she doesn’t know how long the businesses that buy her vape products can hold on without the state reopening.

“These people need to know when they’re going back to work,” she said.

Contact Arthur Kane at akane@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ArthurMKane on Twitter. Kane is a member of the Review-Journal’s investigative team, focusing on reporting that holds leaders and agencies accountable and exposes wrongdoing.

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