Ricketts Easing Restrictions Including On Churches And Restaurants


LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Gov. Pete Ricketts has unveiled plans to loosen the state’s coronavirus restrictions that mean life will start inching back toward normal on May 4 in most of the state, including the Panhandle.

The easing of restrictions follow the governor’s announcement earlier in the week that elective surgeries, visits to the dentist, and trips to the veterinarian could resume May 4th with some restrictions.

The new orders announced Friday begin to flesh out Ricketts’ strategy of tailoring future restrictions on a regional basis that reflects the presence of coronavirus activity.

As a result, they’re taking effect in 59 counties, including the Panhandle and the Omaha area, but not Lincoln – where current rules run until May 6th – or the hot spot areas around Grand Island and Dakota City.

The new orders allow restaurants in the affected counties to reopen their dining rooms but require them to keep crowds at or below half of their rated occupancy with dining parties limited to 6 people and 6-foot distances.. Those rules will last through May 31.

Congregations across the state can again gather for church services starting May 4, but with worshipers expected to keep 6 feet of separation between members of different households and no items passed from person to person.

In beauty salons and barber shops, masks will be required for workers and patrons while the number of children a day care center can handle goes up from 10 to 15. Movie theaters will remain closed through May and bars that don’t serve food will continue to be limited to off-sale and pick-up only.