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Half of businesses complying with face-covering mandate

Just fewer than half of Nevada’s businesses are in compliance with the public face covering requirement as the state heads into the Independence Day weekend, according to a survey of more than 200 business conducted by the Division of Industrial Relations Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Compliance with Emergency Directive 024 and workplace safety guidance requiring social distancing, hand hygiene and proper surface disinfection and cleaning will help protect Nevada’s workforce and allow businesses to stay open, the agency said.

Of the 204 businesses observed on July 2, 49 percent complied with the face covering requirements. Fifty percent of the 180 bars and restaurant bar areas visited by officials were found to be in compliance, with the remaining establishments including automobile sales and maintenance, gyms, hair and nail establishments and tattoo shops demonstrating a 61 percent rate of compliance.

“The noncompliance numbers reported by state officials are disappointing and unacceptable a week after the face coverings directive was issued,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said.

Since enforcement of Directive 024 began, the overall business compliance rate is 85 percent in northern Nevada and 65 percent in southern Nevada. Business sectors with the highest rates of statewide noncompliance include home improvement stores at 61 percent noncompliance, bars at 48 percent noncompliance, grocery stores at 40 percent noncompliance and casino hotels at 33 percent noncompliance.

“To the businesses who are complying, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of all Nevada,” Sisolak said. “You’re protecting our businesses, our health, our jobs, our economy and your industry.

To those businesses operating in violation of the directive by not implementing safe social distancing and face-covering protocols, you’re not only jeopardizing people’s health but you’re also jeopardizing your fellow businesses, your industry and our overall economy.”

More than 850 observations have been conducted in gaming establishments, bars, restaurants, casino hotels, gyms, hair and nail salons, automobile sales and maintenance establishments, grocery stores, home improvement stores, clothing stores and other locations where large groups of people may be congregating for longer periods of time, which can lead to a heightened risk of spreading COVID-19.

Future observation and inspection activity could target industries and business establishments that demonstrate high rates of noncompliance or those where high volumes of complaints have been received by Nevada OSHA.

Follow-up visits of establishments where violations were observed during the initial survey will be conducted within a 5-day window of the initial visit. If a violation is found during the follow-up visit, a notice of citation and penalty will be issued. The maximum penalty of $134,940 can be assessed to an employer that willfully violates the provisions of the directive.

In addition, a notice will be provided to the business indicating that in the event of future noncompliance, the administrator may issue an order requiring the business to cease all activity at the business location during this state of emergency until the business has established and implemented operating procedures to comply with the requirements.

“As I have expressed before, I have growing concerns with our current COVID-19 data trends,” Sisolak said. “If these concerning reports on noncompliance continue, I will not hesitate to take swift and decisive actions next week directed at targeted industries or areas that are experiencing concerning COVID-19 trends and non-compliance.”

In addition to proactive infield observation activity, Nevada OSHA continues to respond and investigate complaints and referrals received by their offices related to Updated Nevada OSHA Guidance for Businesses Operating in Phase 2 of “Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery Plan” published June 26. Complaints can be filed with Nevada OSHA by calling 702-486-9020 in Southern Nevada and 775-688-3700 in Northern Nevada. Complaints can be filed online at https://www.osha.gov/pls/osha7/eComplaintForm.html.

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