Nevada’s State Of Emergency Is Ending – Now What?
May 17, 2022
Governor Sisolak has announced that the state of emergency declared in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be lifted on May 20, 2022. The state of emergency declaration allowed the executive branch of Nevada’s government to control and direct Nevada’s response to the pandemic.
The Governor issued over 50 emergency declarations during the pandemic to address COVID-19 mediation measures like face coverings, business closures, and social distancing and to control how and when businesses could reopen. The state of emergency also allowed him to direct the State’s resources toward obtaining medical supplies and equipment, staffing, and vaccines for Nevada’s hospitals and medical providers.
While the Governor transitioned much of the mediation measures to the counties in May 2021, he retained control over face coverings, ending Nevada’s mask mandate in February 2022. This last step – removing the state of emergency on May 20 – will transition control back to the legislative branch and end his ability to issue emergency proclamations on COVID-19. Nevada’s response to COVID-19 will now be up to the legislature, the counties, and state and local agencies. Nevada employers will need to continue focusing on any COVID-19 requirements imposed by their counties or local health departments as well as the rules and guidelines issued by the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (NV OSHA), the federal OSHA, and/or other agencies that regulate your industry (such as the Gaming Control Board or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).
As you know, several laws were passed during the pandemic that were designed to last for only a limited amount of time. Now that the state of emergency is ending, many have wondered whether the coverage of such laws is also ending. The answer depends on the law and its text, as set forth below.
SB 386, Right to Return Act: The 2021 Legislature passed the Right to Return Act providing a mechanism to return certain laid off hospitality and travel workers in Clark and Washoe counties back to work. The Right to Return Act took effect on July 1, 2021 and continues until the later of the date on which the Governor terminates the declaration of emergency or August 31, 2022. Thus, the Right to Return Act continues to apply to hospitality and travel employers in Clark and Washoe counties until August 31, 2022.
SB 4, COVID-19 Liability Protection: During a special legislative session in 2020, the Nevada Legislature passed Senate Bill 4. Section 29 of this bill provides many employers with immunity from civil liability for personal injury or death resulting from COVID-19 exposure if the employer substantially complied with controlling health standards. This law continues until the date on which the Governor terminates the declaration of emergency or July 1, 2023, whichever is later. Thus, COVID-19 liability protection will end on July 1, 2023, and will apply only to claims arising before that date.
SB 4, COVID-19 Procedures for Public Accommodation Facilities: Senate Bill 4 also prescribes exactly how public accommodation employers in Clark and Washoe counties must respond to COVID-19. It amends Nevada Revised Statutes 447 to add COVID-19 cleaning standards and posting requirements for public accommodation facilities. It also requires mandatory testing and paid time off for employees when testing or diagnosed with COVID-19. This law continues to apply while the declaration of emergency remains in effect or “each day on which: (1) The rate of positive test results for SARS-CoV-2 in the county reported by the Division of Public and Behavioral Health of the Department exceeds 5 percent in any rolling 14-day period in the 90-day period immediately preceding that day; or (2) The number of new COVID-19 cases in the county reported by the Division of Public and Behavioral Health of the Department exceeds 100 new cases per 100,000 residents in any rolling 14-day period in the 90-day period immediately preceding that day.” Thus, despite the Governor’s termination of the emergency declaration, public accommodation employers in Clark and Washoe counties must now monitor COVID-19 data to determine whether the law will continue to apply to them. Employers should consider contacting their elected officials to discuss whether a common-sense amendment to this law is possible during the 2023 Legislative session.
We understand that these are confusing and complicated matters. KZA attorneys are available to help you prepare for any changes necessitated by the upcoming and/or potential termination of these laws and to answer your questions.
KZA Employer Report articles are for general information only; they are not intended and should not be construed to be legal advice. Reading or replying to such articles does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In addition, because the subject matters and applicable laws discussed in Employer Report articles are often in a state of change and not always applicable to every type of business entity or organization, readers should consult with counsel before making decisions based on the same.