May 21, 2021 - 2:24 pm
There is a lot of confusion out there concerning COVID-19 reopening protocols and how it affects our homeowners associations. Communities across the valley are struggling with how best to address this situation. I have invited Las Vegas attorneys Michael T. Schulman, Gregory P. Kerr and David Stern to weigh in on this very important subject.
On May 3, Gov. Steve Sisolak issued his new directive (No. 45), essentially aligning the state mandates with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Two important things for community associations to keep in mind are that:
1. The mask mandate is not gone.
2. Counties and private businesses are still permitted to implement heightened restrictions if they so choose. The governor’s mandates are a floor, not a ceiling.
What the governor’s new directive actually means:
In clarifying some of the confusion regarding the scope of Directive 45, the governor did not entirely rescind the mask mandate. In fact, Directive 45 is clear that, as a general rule, masks are still required.
The directive does, however, state that in addition to the previous exemptions listed in Directive 24, further exemptions are provided for based on the current and future CDC guidelines.
Here’s the good news for associations and members:
Individuals who have been fully vaccinated (two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine such as the Johnson &Johnson vaccine), or are otherwise exempt, are permitted to resume activities without wearing a mask.
Best practices: What should community associations do?
In light of the immunity protections offered by Senate Bill 04, and with the governor’s latest directive, there are difficult burdens that a potential plaintiff would have to overcome before an association could be found liable for COVID-related claims, so long as associations adhere to local county guidelines (including capacity limits) and post signage where appropriate that reflect the CDC guidelines.
Associations are not expected to be the “COVID Police” and are not required — or expected — to confirm whether an individual was actually vaccinated.
However, it is important to inform members that masks are required for persons who have not been fully vaccinated and that the association requires members to adhere to the county and CDC guidelines. Use of signage and other means of communication with the membership (e.g., eblasts, websites, newsletters, etc.) informing them of the new mask requirements under Directive 45 is very important.
Finally, the Nevada Health Response is unequivocal that COVID is still a threat. Community associations have a duty to act in accordance with applicable directives and any local government requirements when it comes to opening access to common area facilities and amenities.
Despite the positive trends, associations need to remember that government restrictions still apply. Masks are still required unless exempted by vaccine or otherwise, social distancing (3 feet) still applies to those who have not been vaccinated and are not of the same household, and capacity limits are still restricted to 80 percent capacity in Clark County. Associations will have to balance the desires of the members with this duty while continuing to implement heightened cleaning services and maintain other COVID protocols.
The opinions expressed in this guest column are from the authors. As always, communities should contact their legal counsel.
Barbara Holland is a certified property manager and holds the supervisory community manager certificate with the state of Nevada. She is an author and educator on real estate management. Questions may be sent to email@example.com.