Ricketts announces eased restrictions beginning June 22

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts made an announcement about the state's CARES Act funding during a...
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts made an announcement about the state's CARES Act funding during a COVID-19 news conference on Friday, June 12, 2020. (WOWT) (WOWT)
Published: Jun. 12, 2020 at 4:10 PM CDT
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More restrictions on businesses and social gatherings will be loosened beginning June 22, as Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Monday the state would enter

of reopening on that date.

With the exception of Hall, Merrick, Dakota, and Hamilton Counties, which will move into Phase 2, the rest of the state will see the following changes:

  • Fan attendance at sporting events will no longer be limited to household members. Beginning July 1, team contact sports like football and basketball can resume.
  • Elective surgeries will be allowed at medical facilities without adherence to previously implemented minimums in regards to bed capacity and personal protective equipment.
  • Bar games, including arcade games, darts, and so on, will be allowed. Maximum occupancy for each business will be allowed, but with a limit of eight people per table, an increase from the previous limit of six per table.
  • Food may be consumed at bars. Self-serve restaurants and buffets are still prohibited.
  • At childcare facilities, capacity limits will now be 15 per room for infants to younger than age 3; 20 per room for 3-year-olds; and 24 per room for 4- and 5-year-olds. Children from kindergarten to grade 12 will be allowed at 30 per room.
  • Indoor gatherings may be held at 50% maximum occupancy up to a max of 10,000 people.
  • Outdoor gatherings may be held at 75% maximum occupancy, up to a max of 10,000 people.
  • Dancing at events is allowed while maintaining social distancing of 6 feet from other groups.
  • Gyms, spas and health clubs are limited to 75% occupancy.
  • Salons, barbershops, massage therapy and tattoo businesses may operate at 75% occupancy. Masks must still be worn by both the customer and employees unless masks must be taken off for a moment.
Phase 4 preview

Looking forward, Ricketts spoke on what Phase 4 of reopening will look like. He said when Phase 4 would begin has not been decided and will be based on how Phase 3 goes.

He said most of the directed health measures will become guidance, with exceptions on gathering sizes.

Ricketts announced more restrictions will be loosened across 89 counties in the state as phase three of reopening begins. Hall, Merrick, Dakota and Hamilton Counties will be in phase two.

Guidelines for longterm care facilities

Felicia Quintana-Zinn, Deputy Director of Health Data at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, explained steps being taken for longterm care facilities to eventually open up once more for visits.

Facilities in Nebraska were required to submit plans outlining their precautions against COVID-19, among other factors. Most of the facilities across the state have already submitted their plans as of Monday, Quintana-Zinn said.

While the pandemic is ongoing, other considerations for residents included their quality of life and dignity, she added.

The guidance documents the state will release Monday will include how facilities may plan and prepare for combating the coronavirus. Depending on each individual facility, they could allow visitation as early as June 22.

"Starting on June 22 at the earliest, and if they’ve had everyone tested and there are no positives and they meet some other criteria, then they could have visitors see their family members," Quintana-Zinn said.

Schools preparing for fall

“We expect schools to have kids in the classroom this fall,” Ricketts said.

Another big takeaway -- that school this fall will look closer to normal compared to how the spring semester ended.

Nebraska Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt is working on best practices to share across the state for back to school.

“We want schools to spend that time between now and the beginning of school, and think about what are the safe protocols that need to be in place,” Blomstedt said.

Dairy Month declaration

At the beginning of the news update, Ricketts toasted with a representative of the Nebraska State Dairy Association after making a proclamation that June is Dairy Month in the state.

Ricketts took a swig of chocolate milk and said the toast was one of his favorite parts of Dairy Month.

Nebraska COVID-19 response update

Gov. Pete Ricketts and other Nebraska officials give an update on the state's COVID-19 response. Details:

Posted by WOWT 6 News on Monday, June 15, 2020