Quantcast

Nebraska to End Nearly All Social Distancing Restrictions

'The goal has always been to protect hospital capacity, and capacity remains stable...'

(Associated Press) Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts will end nearly all of his state’s social-distancing restrictions on Monday.

The new rules will still limit the size of large indoor gatherings, such as concerts, meeting halls and theaters, but will drop all other state-imposed mandates in favor of voluntary guidelines, as other conservative states have done.

“We are loosening the restrictions further on Sept. 14,” Ricketts said at a news conference.

State officials said they made the decision based on the availability of hospital beds and ventilators, in keeping with the Republican governor’s goal of not overwhelming medical facilities.

“The goal has always been to protect hospital capacity, and capacity remains stable,” said Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage.

- Advertisement -

Nebraska’s hospitals have 36% of their regular beds, 31% of their intensive care unit beds and 81% of their ventilators available, according to the state’s online tracking portal. Those numbers have changed little in the last few months.

The new rules will apply statewide except in Lancaster County, which includes the state capital of of Lincoln, home to the University of Nebraska’s flagship campus.

They’ve already been in effect in 27 of Nebraska’s 93 counties, but those areas are overwhelmingly rural and have seen few confirmed cases.

Nebraska will also allow smaller indoor facilities, such as bars, restaurants, churches, gyms and hair salons, to operate with no formal restrictions.

State guidance still recommends limiting crowd sizes, but those guidelines aren’t enforceable.

- Advertisement -

Under the new rules, larger indoor venues such as concert halls can allow gatherings of up to 75% of their rated capacity, up from 50%.

Additionally, Ricketts said people who want a gathering of 500 people or more will have to get approval from their local public health director.

The state’s shift won’t affect mask requirements in Omaha and Lincoln.

Both cities still require people to wear face coverings in most indoor spaces when they aren’t able to stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart.

Lincoln-Lancaster County Public Health Director Pat Lopez has said her county won’t ease its restrictions this month because of a recent increase in cases driven by returning college students and the reopening of Lincoln Public Schools, the state’s second-largest school district.

“This is the time not only to stay the course, but also to redouble our efforts in Lancaster County,” Lopez said. “We need to do what is best for our community to overcome the impacts of this virus.”

Nebraska saw a sharp spike in cases on Tuesday and Wednesday, but that was the result of a glitch that slowed the reporting of test results.

For several days before that, the state’s public health data system wasn’t receiving results even though laboratories were processing tests.

- Advertisement -

TRENDING NOW

GOP Sens. Predict Only a Few Republicans Will Break from Trump During Impeachment Trial

Democrats are sending the House’s article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday in the hopes that the upper...

UPDATE: Texas AG Sues Biden for Suspending Deportations, Immigration Policies

UPDATE: Texas on Friday moved to stop President Joe Biden from allowing a 100-day moratorium on deportations, bringing one of the first lawsuits against...

Romney to Give Kid-Glove Treatment to Biden after Hammering His Own Party Leader

Much like the mainstream media, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, marked the arrival of the Biden administration this week with a dramatic shift in tone. Romney,...

Cotton Blasts Calif. AG’s Nomination to Biden Cabinet, Urges Senate to Reject Him

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., urge his Senate colleagues to reject President Joe Biden’s selection of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be the next...
- Advertisement -