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Beatrice joins list of cities pushing ahead with facemask requirement

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has repeatedly said he is opposed to a statewide mask mandate
Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 7:58 PM CST
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BEATRICE, Neb. (WOWT) - Beatrice is now one of a few Nebraska communities to introduce a mask rule requiring facemasks to be worn inside public spaces with no exceptions.

Downtown, the only shock 6 News found was from people who were surprised it took this long for the city to implement mask requirements. They say this is a step in the right direction.

“You know, there’s a lot of things you don’t wanna do in life,” said Kim Pittman, owner of Cutting Edge salon. “But we do it because we have to. This is nothing — a mask it is nothing to keep everybody safe.”

Pittman said she has been running her salon with strict rules since March, sanitizing constantly and keeping the number of people inside her salon low “because, you know, it has to be done.”

She said she’s happy to abide by any rules that will make her clients and community safer.

“There’s just a lot of sick people right now,” she said.

The Beatrice Health Board decided now was the time because the virus numbers there are surging, and the local hospital’s COVID wing — which officials say has tripled in size — is full.

The order is in place until Dec. 15. Beatrice Police Chief Bruce Lang said he hopes the deadline will help people stay on track and abide by the rules.

“We’re trying to keep businesses open and kids in school, and try to limit the impact on our healthcare system,” Lang said. “So that’s what it kind of came down to.”

If the health directive is not followed — it would be considered obstruction of government operation and a citation will be issued.

“When we did this in the spring, we had zero citations or arrests or any of those kinds of things; and we anticipate that will have the same thing this time with voluntary compliance,” he said.

While some make do under tighter restrictions, others are flourishing.

“It’s business as usual,” said Chris Knowles, owner of C & L Baseball Cards, a collector- and game-store.

He said he’s in the business of keeping people entertained.

“People are at home and wanting something to do, so they’re picking up card games that they haven’t played for years and playing them at home with family,” he said.

With more than 400 cases of COVID-19 reported in Gage County in the last two weeks, Knowles said he’s happy to help entertain people who aren’t comfortable leaving home.

With the governor firmly stating he’s opposed to mask mandates, repeatedly referring to masks as “just one tool” in the fight to contain COVID-19, other cities in Nebraska are working on putting mask orders in place.

Officials in Kearney passed a mandatory mask policy Tuesday night.

Back in the Omaha-metro area, officials in Ralston are working to move forward with a mask mandate. Noting parts of their city are surrounded by Omaha, which has a mask ordinance in effect until February, officials there said it just makes sense.

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