Omaha’s mask mandate may mirror Lincoln’s

Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 5:04 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - For more than a week, the Douglas County Health Director has said any face cover mandate would likely mirror what was done in Lincoln.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said he didn’t want to be heavy-handed in ordering a statewide mask mandate if the data didn’t support it.

But that isn’t stopping Omaha from following the lead of Lincoln.

Lincoln’s mask mandate took effect a week ago.

It requires business owners to ensure customers have a face covering when they cannot socially distance.

On Friday, Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said “We are focusing on education and support as our primary means of enforcement.”

Hours later that night, the Lincoln-Lancaster Health Department was investigating complaints at the Railyard Commons and two bars -- Iguana’s pub and Longwell’s -- of significant violations.

The health department closed them for 24-hours Saturday -- saying it needs “businesses to work with us to prevent the further spread of the virus.”

That will likely be an enforcement option when it comes to Omaha’s upcoming mask mandate.

Lincoln officials say they tried to work with the bars -- but to no avail.

In March, the Omaha Police Department’s Traffic Division shifted gears to compliance checks, even shutting down a West Omaha salon for not following the rules.

Lincoln’s Mayor told citizens to not call the police -- either the emergency or non-emergency line -- if someone wasn’t wearing a mask.

Instead, avoid interaction -- because you never know if they are an exception to the rule.

In Lincoln, those who wanted to complain about violators were asked to contact the health department or the mayor’s office.

We’re hearing from those who are drafting the Omaha plan would likely have similar recommendations.

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