(Kimberly James) – As the number of COVID-19 cases enters its third swell and Gov. Steve Sisolak calls for a voluntary self-quarantine, businesses across Nevada worry about how another shutdown would affect them.
Sisolak rolled out new COVID-19 restrictions this week, including 25% capacity for businesses and an expanded face mask mandate. He also has called for residents to stay at home and follow health and safety precautions.
“With no help in sight from Congress, and with our governor threatening another ‘stay at home’ order, small businesses will continue to bear the brunt of these lockdowns,” Randi Thompson, Nevada state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, told The Center Square. “They are likely some of the safest places to shop and dine. Small businesses don’t get big crowds. They are not super-spreaders. Yet they are getting punished the most.”
A shutdown could send businesses that are barely hanging on after the first closure orders in March into a tailspin, potentially leading to permanent closings.
Thompson said that over the last several months, more than 1,000 Nevada businesses have closed permanently.
“Small businesses employ over 40% of Nevada’s workforce,” Thompson said. “And many of these workers have not received unemployment checks yet. Another shutdown will lead to more unemployment, more evictions and more homelessness. There has to be a better way to address the spike in COVID cases than a shutdown that will impact 300,000 lives.”
The restaurant industry is just one of many that had to retool to stay solvent during the pandemic. Another shutdown order would likely severely impact restaurants.
“When you limit indoor capacity, you limit the amount of revenue a restaurant can make,” Alexandria Dazlich, director of government affairs at Nevada Restaurant Association, told The Center Square. “For an industry that traditionally runs on small margins, this puts them in a difficult situation because they have been deemed essential while having to change their business models and observe changing health requirements.”
The governor will be watching the infection trends over the next two weeks to determine whether a more severe restriction is necessary.
“If there is a temporary shutdown, the ability of the industry to rebound will depend largely on the availability of federal funds,” Dazlich said. “Unfortunately, if the restaurant industry continues to be restricted and no federal aid is given, we estimate around 30% of Nevada restaurants will close permanently by the end of this year.”