Governor Pete Ricketts Says if Hospitalizations Continue to Rise Bars and Restaurants Will See Further Restrictions

HASTINGS – At his coronavirus press briefing Monday, Governor Pete Ricketts said that bars and restaurants will see similar restrictions that they saw in the spring when the pandemic first hit, if hospitalizations continue to rise.

Currently coronavirus patients are using about 20 percent of hospital beds in the state and if that number hits 25 percent, the Governor says that’s when those restrictions will occur. 

Restaurants will be limited in their operation from 5am to 9pm. Bars will be closed to all but carry out and take out or delivery. They will not be able to have in person dining. We’ll be at the ten person rule for those indoor gatherings, 25 person for outdoor gatherings. So you can see we’ll be back at a lot of the same restrictions we had earlier in the spring. 

Zoe Olson, the President of the Nebraska Restaurant Association, says that restaurants have been struggling throughout this pandemic. She said that everyone needs to wear masks and be respectful to the staff at restaurants, no matter what their policy may be when it comes to mask wearing.

The Governor also responded to the NSEA calling for a statewide mask mandate and Ricketts reiterated that he will not implement one. When asked if individual cities could implement one he said towns and cities should reference their legal counsel if they want to mandate masks. Omaha has a special charter allowing them to do that and most other cities do not have that charter.

The State Board of Education is recommending a statewide mask mandate to ensure the safety of all students, staff, and community members. The recommendation comes in the form of a board resolution. The resolution asks Nebraska communities to do their part to keep students and staff safe and to keep schools open through actions like wearing face coverings in public, staying home when possible, and avoiding the three Cs: crowded places, close contact, and confined spaces.

The board also passed a resolution praising local health departments and health professionals who have worked tirelessly since the pandemic began. They are asking the Governor to release a new Directed Health Measure that will implement a statewide mask mandate, make it so outdoor and indoor gatherings are limited to ten people, temporarily close bars and suspend indoor dining and launch a Takeout Nebraska campaign, and dedensify classrooms with alternative staffing and student attendance patterns, especially when students are eating.

In addition, the Nebraska State Education is calling for a suspension of all youth and high school sports and extracurricular activities until January.

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