Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts reviewing Lincoln mayor’s authority to mandate face masks

Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 9:32 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - It’s a city mandate the governor is not on board with: face masks required — by order of the mayor — in buildings open to the public where social distancing cannot be guaranteed.

“We’ve been able to manage this by asking people to do the right thing,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said during his news conference on Monday morning. “To bring the heavy hand of the government and to tell people what to do that to me just seems overbearing.”

The governor insists that Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird doesn’t have the power, and his lawyers are reviewing her authority.

Her mandate includes exceptions for those with medical conditions and those age 5 or younger.

For now, the mayor has said citations won’t be issued for non-compliance, you can be cited for trespassing if you refuse to leave a business because you can’t or won’t wear a mask.

Lincoln Police are asking all complaints be filed to the state Department of Health and Human Services. That’s cause some private security companies in Lincoln to see a rise in demand to help with enforcement.

“You have employees that are doing what they’re good at, and that’s serving their customers,” said Janis Strautkalms with Lincoln Guards Security. “The last thing they want to do is engage in anything extra.”

Some local businesses, like Monkey Wrench Cycle, have been asking customers to wear masks for some time already.

“Most people didn’t read the door until today,” said Eric Peterson of Monkey Wrench Cycle. “There have been a lot more people who have stopped and read the signs that we have on the door which tells them to wear a mask when they come in.”

And while this business offers services outdoors for people who dont want to wear a mask, some say they’ll avoid stores that are mandating masks on their own.

Michelle McClure said she does not agree with the mandate.

“I just feel like your body, it needs to be subjected to stuff so it builds your immune system just like kids playing in the dirt it builds their immune system,” she said.

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