Nevada Mask Mandate Lifted After Groups Urge Governor to Halt Restriction

Nevada will no longer mandate masks in public spaces after immense outcry

Governor Steve Sisolak made the announcement on February 10 via a video message. The mandate removal will affect every Nevada citizen, regardless of their vaccination status, and comes as the Nevada Health Response estimates that the state registers around 1,278 confirmed cases of COVID-19 every day. The governor's announcement comes as states nationwide are taking steps to remove mask mandates in hopes for a return to normalcy as the Omicron waves appears to subside.

The move also follows backlash from Nevada businesses and workers over its continued enforcement. On February 9, the Nevada chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said that the mask mandate discourages potential employees from accepting jobs, the Associated Press reported.

"Masks will no longer be required in public places, but there are still some locations where you may be asked to wear a mask," Sisolak said in his message. He is referring to the fact that individual businesses can still enforce a mask mandate, and that all citizens must comply with the rules of these establishments.

High-risk individuals are also encouraged to continue wearing masks, as well as those attending public transportation, hospitals and clinics. Despite a mask mandate no longer being in place, citizens do not have to stop wearing masks, and Sisolek said during his address that those who continue wearing them should be treated respectfully.

"Please be as considerate and as kind as you can possibly be," the governor urged. "I encourage everyone to follow your conscience."

This rescindment comes after the NFIB wrote an open letter to Sisolek saying that the mask mandate was hurting businesses.

"Just about every business in Nevada has a 'help wanted' sign on their door," wrote NFIB State Director Randi Thompson. "We continue to have the highest unemployment rate in the nation, and the mask mandate contributes to that. Employers tell me that when they interview potential employees, they ask: 'Will I have to wear a mask? If so, then I won't take the job.'"

With the mask mandate now lifted, it is unknown what kind of trend in COVID-19 cases will follow. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Nevada has recorded about 637,609 cases, with 9,270 of those cases resulting in death, according to the Nevada Health Response website. At the moment, there are approximately 1,182 people hospitalized for COVID complications, with 271 of them in the ICU.

Nevada is showing mixed progress with getting its citizens fully vaccinated. According to the Mayo Clinic, the state has the 20th lowest percentage of citizens who are fully vaccinated. However, around 73.4 percent of its citizens have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In his announcement, Sisolek acknowledged that with numbers like these, many may feel like it is too soon to drop the mask mandate. However, the mandate will still be dropped.

"I have to make the decision, balancing all the factors and all the data that's been presented to me," he said.

Update 02/10/2022 at 2:19 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to include quotes from Randi Thompson and background information.

Face mask
Nevada will no longer have a mask mandate for public spaces, according to the state's governor. Above, a stock photo shows someone holding a cloth face mask. Avijit Sadhu/Getty