More COVID-19 restrictions are loosening in Nebraska on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Governor Pete Ricketts’ office issued a statement saying that Nebraska will further downgrade the state’s COVID restrictions effective at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
Ricketts' office say the move is prompted by the seventh day of COVID-19 patients making up 15% or less of the state’s hospitalizations. That means Nebraska’s Directed Health Measures will move from yellow to blue in the color-coded DHM levels chart. The change relaxes social-distancing and other restrictions since the number of people hospitalized with the COVID-19 has continued to decline.
Rules classified as “restrictions” under previous levels now become “guidance” in the blue level, including:
- Seating restrictions of eight people or less for restaurants, bars, weddings and funeral receptions, and other venues, will return to “guidance.”
- The requirement that patrons at bars and restaurants to be seated unless ordering food, using the restroom, or playing games will return to “guidance.”
- Elective surgeries will be allowed to resume without restrictions, and the maximum capacity at indoor gatherings will be increased from 50% to 75%.
Gov. Pete Ricketts had said Monday that he would relax the restrictions if there were consistently less than 15% of the state’s hospital beds occupied by virus patients. Currently, 14% of Nebraska’s staffed hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, and that number has remained below 15% for six days in a row. The state said the number of people being treated in hospitals declined again Tuesday to 566 from the previous day’s 582. That total remains well below the record of 987 set on Nov. 20.
The state has reported 1,521 COVID-19 deaths and 158,324 cases since the start of the pandemic and is reporting 96,359 recoveries.