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Las Vegas police target nonessential businesses that remain open

Updated March 23, 2020 - 6:18 pm

Las Vegas police have issued 36 warning letters, seven suspensions and four citations since Friday, when Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered a mandatory shutdown of most nonessential businesses in the state — his broadest action against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of the 113 businesses that were visited by the compliance team, the 7 suspensions resulted in forced shutdowns of businesses that would not voluntarily close,” the Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement Monday evening.

The morning after the order, Metro announced that officers in plainclothes from its special investigations section would begin compliance checks on businesses deemed nonessential by the governor, including gyms, yoga studios, barbershops, nail and tanning salons, concert venues, strip clubs and brothels.

The mandate, which will be in effect until April 16, gives local governments the authority to impose civil penalties, such as fines and license revocation.

“If businesses defy this directive and stay open, state and local law enforcement will have the ability to treat this as a criminal act, after all other options have been exhausted,” Sisolak said Friday.

Metro has said noncompliant business owners or managers will be given copies of the governor’s order and a letter from Metro stating that the business is in violation. Officers, who should be identifiable by their badges, also will stand by as the business is closed, the department previously said.

If business owners believe their businesses are essential, they can appeal to the appropriate city or county business license agency.

Meanwhile, according to city officials, no citations had been issued in either Boulder City or Mesquite as of Monday.

“We have not had any citations, and we have not had any businesses that aren’t cooperating,” Boulder City spokeswoman Lisa LaPlante said.

In Mesquite, if the city receives a complaint about a business that should be closed, the matter first will be referred to the city’s code enforcement department, according to Mesquite fire Capt. John Gately.

“The protocol is still being worked out, but I think they are giving them a warning first and then starting enforcement from there,” Gately said.

North Las Vegas has established a three-step protocol.

Spokesman Patrick Walker said any business that does not comply will be subject to a penalty of up to $1,000 a day. If it receives two citations, the business will receive a written notice from law enforcement of criminal prosecution, and the owner will be arrested if he or she still does not comply.

According to Henderson spokeswoman Kathleen Richards, businesses will receive a warning and stop-work order with no civil penalty upon their first violation.

If a second violation occurs, “the City will issue a notice of violation and stop work order and assess a $500 civil penalty for each violation,” Richards said in an email.

A third violation will result in the city closing the business and suspending or revoking the business license. Other possible action includes arrest and prosecution. Nonessential businesses remaining open in Henderson may be reported anonymously on the city’s website.

Metro said the public may report nonessential businesses that remain open in its jurisdiction by calling 311.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writers Alexis Egeland, Glenn Puit and Blake Apgar contributed to this report.

LVMPD Notice to Nonessentia… by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

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