Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Nebraska, US, to lift business restrictions in additional counties starting May 18, but continue urging residents to stay home.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • North Platte, Nebraska
  • Scottsbluff, Nebraska
  • Grand Island, Nebraska

This alert began 18 May 2020 12:53 GMT and is scheduled to expire 25 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nebraska (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions

Summary
Nebraska Governor Peter Ricketts issued new measures to lift restrictions on certain businesses in additional counties, starting May 18, while urging residents statewide to remain at home as much as possible as part of the state's response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

As of May 18, some business restrictions will be lifted in Adams, Clay, Webster, Nuckolls, Fillmore, Saline, Thayer, Jefferson, Gage, Dawson, Buffalo, Gosper, Phelps, Kearney, Harlan, and Franklin counties.

Businesses allowed to reopen in these areas include personal care facilities such as barbershops, hair salons, and tattoo parlors; dine-in services at restaurants; and childcare centers will be allowed to operate with up to 15 children per room. All businesses that reopen must comply with specific mandates aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing guidelines and limitations on premises' capacity, among other guidelines. Self-service and bar areas in restaurants must remain closed.

Authorities had previously lifted restrictions on similar businesses in other areas of the state May 4-13:

  • May 4: Douglas, Sarpy, Cass, Boone, Nance, Platte, Colfax, Polk, Butler, York, Seward, Blaine, Loup, Garfield, Wheeler, Valley, Greeley, Sherman, Howard, Custer, Cherry, Keya Paha, Brown, Rock, Boyd, Holt, Knox, Antelope, Pierce, Cedar, Dixon, Wayne, Thurston, Sioux, Dawes, Box Butte, Sheridan, Scotts Bluff, Morrill, Garden, Grant, Banner, Kimball, Cheyenne, Deuel, Otoe, Johnson, Nemaha, Pawnee, Richardson, Keith, Perkins, Chase, Hayes, Frontier, Dundy, Hitchcock, Red Willow, and Furnas counties.
  • May 11: Lancaster, Hooker, Thomas, Logan, McPherson, Arthur, Lincoln, Dodge, Washington, and Saunders counties.
  • May 13: Madison, Stanton, Cuming, and Burt counties.


Statewide, gyms and fitness centers can operate under sanitation and capacity restrictions. All other nonessential businesses will remain closed until further notice in the rest of the state. Youth sports teams will be allowed to resume practices starting June 1. Other businesses and activities, including bars, social clubs, cinemas, and theaters, will remain closed statewide through at least May 31. Gatherings of 10 people or more remain banned statewide. Essential businesses, including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, fuel stations, and companies in the transport, media, security, energy, and critical manufacturing sectors, are allowed to remain open.

Authorities continue to urge residents to limit their time outside the home, to follow social distancing guidelines, to shop alone and only once per week, and to work from home whenever possible.

Officials could extend or otherwise amend the orders with little to no advance notice depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, officials may reimpose restrictions or extend them further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly comply with the directed health measures if operating in Nebraska. Consider allowing a liberal telecommuting policy, if possible; plan accordingly for increased absenteeism among employees who are the parents or guardians of school-aged children.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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