On August 11, 2020, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed Senate Bill 4, which sets new safety standards for the hospitality industry, provides some protections for hospitality workers, and provides for immunity for businesses who comply with statutory requirements.
In passing the law, the Governor noted the importance of the travel and tourism industry to the state. Due to the pandemic, the hospitality industry lost over 130,000 jobs in April and May alone.
The law creates new safety requirements for the hospitality industry in Nevada. Public accommodation facilities, which include hotels, casinos, resorts, or any other facility offering rooms to the public for monetary compensation, must follow standards for cleaning and public health. Specifically, high-contact areas (which are broadly defined and include elevators, exercise equipment, tabletops, and all sections of a guest room) must be cleaned regularly. Additionally, facilities are banned from offering incentives to guests to decline daily housekeeping, which many hotels had done as part of an environmental initiative.
The law sets standards for hospitality worker protection, which the Governor promoted as “first-in-the-nation legislation.”
Hospitality employers must notify employees within 24 hours if someone they have come in close contact with (either a guest or another employee) has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Once an employee has been notified, they are required to undergo testing and are entitled to three days of paid time off to await testing and testing results. Testing must be provided at no cost to the employee and may be provided on-site at the hotel, or at another facility. If a testing delay causes this process to be more than three days, the employee may qualify for additional paid time off. Employees are also entitled to time off if they contract the coronavirus.
The law also includes a business immunity provision. If a plaintiff files a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against a business as a result of exposure to COVID-19, a business will be immune from liability if they can show that they were in “substantial compliance with controlling health standards.” Under the law, a court will have the power to determine as a matter of law whether an entity was in substantial compliance, but the plaintiff has the burden of proof to show that the business was not in compliance. This will make it more difficult for plaintiffs to sue businesses in Nevada for exposure to COVID-19. While most businesses in the state are included in the immunity provisions, the bill notably excludes schools, hospitals, and nursing homes, and hospice care facilities.