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Mask or no mask? Businesses loosen use policies as confusion over rules remains

Some local businesses are loosening their mask policies because of new guidance from the state as well as employing the honor system with who should be wearing face coverings and when.

“If you’re not wearing a mask, I’m assuming you’ve been vaccinated,” said Grant Turner, co-owner of The Tap and The Dillinger Food and Drinkery, about his employees and customers.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing requirements for people who are fully vaccinated, allowing them to stop wearing them outdoors in crowds and in many indoor settings. Businesses, however, can still require masks to be worn. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak also signed an emergency mandate, allowing the state’s mask and face covering requirements to be aligned with the CDC’s recommendations.

Turner said he gives out the literature he receives about mask rules at his businesses, but he lets them handle enforcement.

“I give everybody the literature, and I’m not offering any more guidance … I’m just all about personal liberty,” he said.

“I’m glad we’re moving that way,” said Roger Tobler, owner of True Value Hardware, about the new guidelines.

Tobler said even with the governor’s mandate and CDC guidelines, he is following Clark County’s rules and will change his mask policy when commissioners make a decision. When that happens, he said he will use the honor system with his customers.

Plan to expire

Tuesday, commissioners decided that the county would fully open June 1, letting the local COVID-19 mitigation plan to expire, and that all restrictions would return to prepandemic conditions, eliminating the need for face masks among those who are fully vaccinated, capacity limits and social distancing.

This comes amid sustained declines in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths, coupled with the ongoing availability of vaccines, according to Dr. Fermin Leguen, the chief health officer for the Southern Nevada Health District.

Until then, Turner and Tobler agreed the rules about mask wearing are confusing.

Turner said navigating them is difficult because they are enforced at a higher level than they are given.

“It’s like advising at a level four but enforcing at a level 10,” he said.

“Those who are worried about it should continue to wear masks,” said Tobler.

The new mask mandate also has allowed Boulder City Library to ease its requirements for patrons.

“As of May 14th, the Boulder City Library has updated its policy … . Fully vaccinated patrons no longer need to wear masks,” said Kim Diehm, library director. “If you are unvaccinated, you still must wear a mask at all times in the library.”

Diehm said they will still have hand sanitizer and masks available for patrons as well as offer curbside service. All the staff will continue to wear masks and sanitize the facility regularly.

“We are no longer asking patrons to limit their time inside the library,” she added. “They may browse or study for as long as we are open, or use a computer for as long as one is available.”

CDC guidelines

Sisolak’s mandate, signed May 3, notes that businesses “shall ensure that all patrons, customers, patients, or clients utilize face coverings” consistent with the latest guidance, “which may include prohibiting persons without face coverings from entering any indoor premises.”

This follows the CDC’s guidelines that allow “private businesses and organizations to require patrons and employees to wear face coverings,” according to a statement released by the County Commission.

The CDC’s guidance also lifted travel restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated, although the Transportation Security Administration extended face mask requirements through mid-September for travel by air, bus or train. Additionally, they must be worn in hospitals and health care facilities.

According to the CDC, someone is fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine.

The CDC guidelines recommends that those who are not vaccinated should continue wearing masks and follow social distancing measures.

The CDC still recommends that people avoid large indoor gatherings and that those with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems continue to take heightened precautions to avoid infection.

Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Bill Dentzer and Boulder City Review Editor Hali Bernstein Saylor contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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