VICTOR JOECKS: From live entertainment to bars, the rules are whatever King Sisolak says they are

Gov. Steve Sisolak commends Nevadans who wear masks during an update on the state's COVID-19 re ...

King Steve Sisolak’s lockdown restrictions aren’t based on science. His double talk on live entertainment proves it.

On Saturday, he and his wife ate at Monzu Italian Oven, a Las Vegas restaurant, with another couple. He sat a few feet away from a live band, which included an unmasked singer.

Normally, this wouldn’t be worth commenting on. Nevada’s governor has a stressful job in the best of circumstances. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some live entertainment.

But these aren’t normal times. Nevadans aren’t just dealing with coronavirus. They’re suffering under the job-killing restrictions King Sisolak continues to impose. Those include harsh restrictions on live entertainment.

“Musical performances, live entertainment, concerts, competitions, sporting events and any events with live performances may resume, but shall remain closed for public attendance,” Sisolak’s Phase 2 edict says.

Local officials have used that diktat to shut down musical performances at places such as the Saddle N Spurs Saloon and E-String Poker Bar. But King Sisolak didn’t take any steps to shut this band down.

Don’t you dare stop the band when the king is sitting nearby. His Majesty needs something to drown out the cries of anguish from the peasants desperately waiting on the state’s broken unemployment system. It would have been a whole different story if the musicians had voiced support for President Donald Trump.

King Sisolak claimed this band wasn’t in violation because it was providing ambient background music, not live entertainment. The distinction seems to be customers paid for the food, not the entertainment.

Even if that is technically true, it doesn’t make sense. He’s implying that it’s safe for a band to play at a restaurant only if patrons are paying for the food. If customers paid to listen to the music, that would be unsafe.

Quick, someone call the Centers for Disease Control. King Sisolak deserves a Nobel Prize for this medical breakthrough. His rule makes even less sense if you believe in the usefulness of masks, as King Sisolak does. People eating in a restaurant don’t wear masks. It could be required for people watching a concert.

Since the start of the pandemic, King Sisolak has repeatedly told Nevadans that his restrictions are based on science. Reopening “will strictly be based on medical decisions, medical guidance and statistics,” he said during a March briefing. A founding principle of the Western States Pact, which Sisolak joined in April, was that “health outcomes and science — not politics — will guide these (reopening) decisions.”

At his Monday news conference, I asked Sisolak what the medical rationale was for this distinction. He dodged the question and cut off my attempt to follow up.

That’s not surprising, because there isn’t a good answer. What happened at the restaurant showed every Nevadan that King Sisolak doesn’t have a scientific explanation for all of his restrictions. Some of them, like the continued shutdown of bars, look downright arbitrary and discriminatory.

The rules are what King Sisolak says they are. Don’t dare question His Royal Highness.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 3 p.m. with Kevin Wall on AM 670 KMZQ Right Talk. Contact him at or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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