Ricketts Toughens COVID-19 Rules, But No Statewide Mask Mandate

     In response to record COVID-19 numbers, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has issued stricter Designated Health Measures that include mandatory 6-foot distancing and requires masks in some businesses.

      He did not order a statewide mandatory mask requirement, explaining that he thought a mask mandate would create resistance from people, but he did tell Nebraskans they need to “step up” and redouble their efforts to fight COVID-19.

    Under the new rules taking effect Tuesday night at midnight and running through the end of the month, masks are required in businesses with close contact with customers for over 15-minutes such as salons, barbershops, tattoo shops, and massage parlors.

     Bars and restaurants can still offer dine-in at 100% capacity, but patrons must remain seated unless ordering or going to the bathroom. Bar patrons can still sit at the bar, but must stay 6-feet apart and they must wear masks when not eating or drinking.  

     Restaurants can again offer self-serve buffets and salad bars, but tables must be 6-feet apart with no more than 8 individuals at a table. 

       Churches are at 100% capacity but with 6-feet of separation between family groups. Indoor gatherings have a 25% limit with no more than 8 in a group and 6-feet between groups. 

       Indoor carnivals and dances are prohibited, dance recitals are allowed with some restrictions, and dancing at wedding receptions is allowed if individuals remain by their tables and maintain social distancing. 

      The only fans allowed for indoor youth extracurricular activities, both at the club and school level, are household members of participants, and there must be 6-feet between different household units. 

      The governor said residents really need “to pitch in and help out, so we can slow the spread of the virus and protect hospital capacity.” COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state have tripled in just over a month and new cases have doubled to over 1,000 per day.