Las Vegas restaurant house owners are responding to new COVID-19 limits

Las Vegas restaurant owners may not be thrilled with the restrictions Governor Steve Sisolak announced on Sunday, but they have been encouraged that he has not imposed a new closure.

Sisolak announced on Sunday afternoon that restaurants and bars would have to be reduced from at least three weeks to 25 percent of capacity both indoors and outdoors during what he calls a “nationwide break”.

The restrictions, which go into effect at 12:01 am on Tuesday, are in response to what the governor called “a massive increase in community penetration”. A Nevadan is diagnosed with COVID-19 every minute, Sisolak said.

Capacity limits must be specified and the tables must be limited to no more than four people each. Companies that offer food only need to be reserved. Bar and counter seating must be socially distant. And masks are required both indoors and outdoors – even if there is a 6 foot social distance – if a person is not actively eating or drinking when with someone who is not part of their own household. The same restrictions apply to restaurants in resorts.

The governor said residents and visitors are encouraged to patronize restaurants through roadside pickup, takeaway and / or delivery.

Las Vegas restaurant owners contacted by the Review Journal on Sunday evening said the store was already nearly 25 percent of capacity given the slowdown in the past two weeks.

“It’s just more important to us,” said Ryan Doherty, founder of Corner Bar Management, which has several properties in downtown Las Vegas and Area15. “Unfortunately we’re getting used to it.”

“It allows us to keep staff and keep busy,” said Scott Frost, owner of Hussong’s Cantina at The Shoppes on Mandalay Place and Summerlin. “We’re so slow during the week anyway that increasing from 50 to 25 percent isn’t that big of a difference.”

But Frost had problems with the reservation-only restriction.

“You will still have walk-ups,” he said. “People outside the state don’t know that there are restrictions. We’re not going to sit there and tell them to make a reservation so it’s difficult to enforce. “

“I would have preferred if he just closed the state borders,” said Lola Pokorny, owner of Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen downtown and in Summerlin. “Because when the border states close – what they have – everyone from California and everyone from Utah come here. And they go to their families and friends and eat out because it is a pleasure and a privilege to eat out. But when they gather at home it’s over 10, 15, 20 people and that’s where the spread is. “

Los Angeles County announced on Sunday that restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will only be able to offer take-out, drive-through and delivery services from Wednesday at 10:00 p.m. and for at least three weeks.

“I think 25 percent capacity is a very difficult challenge for many of us in this industry,” said Cory Harwell, who runs Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas, Utah and Georgia. “But right now I don’t think anyone’s main concern is the finances of this business. I think the main concern is the long-term health of our city and our industry. “

“We’re going to turn every stone and make lemonade out of lemons,” said Benito Martinez, managing partner of the Sand Dollar Lounge. “We’ll just keep doing our best to roll with the punches. And if we do less (customers) it just means the quality goes up, our service goes up, and it is easier to enforce the security measures. We will maximize every opportunity we have. “

“The shock will be that a lot of people will get it on their minds to sit tight, stay in and not go out at all,” said Doherty. “That is my concern. And I think that’s what every business owner worries about. “

“We will of course have a slower season,” said Branden Powers, managing partner of The Golden Tiki and Evel Pie. “And taking a break instead of a complete shutdown is, in my opinion, a prudent decision and the best possible choice, apart from no other restrictions.”

Sisolak said if the state didn’t see any improvement in trends in the next three weeks, further restrictions would be announced. However, he noticed recent announcements of progress in developing a vaccine and said there was light at the end of the tunnel.

“We’re closer to the end than the beginning,” he said.

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at [email protected] Follow @HKRinella on Twitter. Contact Al Mancini at amancini @ Follow @AlManciniVegas on Twitter.

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