The Nye County Board of County Commissioners’ vote last Tuesday to open up the county 100 percent and to essentially remove the mask mandate creates a predicament for businesses.
The Nevada secretary of state must license every business that opens in Nevada. You must have that license first before you can apply for your local business license. Without that state license, you cannot operate as a business in Nevada.
That requirement means that as a business, you must follow whatever Covid-19 state mandates are in place, or you are subject to fines and possibly losing your state business license. This contradiction between the BOCC vote and the state is where it gets confusing, but it isn’t. The county can elect to open up 100 percent and remove the mask mandate, but businesses must still follow the state mandates to be open. Therefore, a business must still enforce masks and social distancing or be subject to fines. OSHA will continue to check companies for compliance. If they find that a business is violating the state Covid-19 mandates, a business can be fined thousands of dollars and closed.
This is the predicament that businesses in Nye County face. They can open up 100 percent and ignore the mask mandate without any county repercussions. Still, they subject themselves to scrutiny and penalties by the state for not following the state mandates. It also creates problems for a business with their customers who now think that they don’t have to wear a mask at all. They still do if they want to go into a business that is following the required state mandates. Businesses will inevitably have some unpleasant interactions with customers who want to argue with them about the masks. It is not the business’ fault. That business is not trying to make some political statement. They are just trying to stay in business.
I get it that people are tired of masks. Without going down the controversial road about whether they work or don’t work, they are just darn uncomfortable. They are hot, and our weather temperatures are moving toward summer, making them even more uncomfortable. They cause skin irritations for some people. They make it difficult to talk because it muffles your voice. Some people have claustrophobia, and the masks make them feel smothered. It is an endless list of reasons why people are so over wearing masks, yet here we are, with a state mandate that they are required.
Another annoyance about the mandatory mask requirement, why do you have to wear a mask if you are fully vaccinated? The official reason given is that people will say they are vaccinated to avoid wearing a mask when they are not. You almost want to be able to say, “Hey, here are my papers,” but that would lead to a lengthy debate about having to show your papers. Maybe when we get our second shot, we should get issued a metal tag, like when we have our pets vaccinated for rabies, that we can wear! No, that’s not going to happen, but it seems pointless to wear a mask when you are fully vaccinated, and yet, we must.
The governor has proposed to turn over control of the Covid-19 mitigation mandates to the counties on May 1, with one major exception. A statewide mask will continue even after May 1, according to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s spokeswoman, Meghin Delaney. We will have to see how the BOCC vote plays out over the next few weeks as it gets scrutinized legally and how the state reacts. In the meantime, please don’t take your mask frustration out on our local businesses. They are just trying to stay open and probably don’t like the masks either. It’s how they have to play the game for now.
Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org