Lancaster County reinstates indoor mask mandate

(Lancaster County, NE) -- After a rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department is reinstating its indoor mask mandate.

On Tuesday, the health department issued a new local Directed Health Measure that includes a mask mandate. The DHM will require all individuals ages two and older – regardless of vaccination status – to wear a mask when they are in an indoor space unless six feet of separation from others at all times can be achieved. The DHM requires business owners to ensure their patrons ages two and older wear masks any time they cannot maintain six feet of separation with non-household members. The LLCHD said that face coverings for outdoor events are still recommended, not required. This includes events such as Husker football games or outdoor concerts.

The DHM goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, August 26th and continues until September 30, when it will be reevaluated. The DHM includes exceptions. Masks are not required for the following:

  • Individuals eating or drinking or seated to eat or drink
  • Those exercising
  • Those engaged in an occupation that prevents the wearing of a mask
  • Those obtaining a service or purchasing goods or services that requires the temporary removal of the mask
  • A person giving a speech, lecture, or broadcast to an audience as long as six feet of distance from other individuals is maintained
  • Those individuals who cannot otherwise wear a mask because of a medical condition, a mental health condition, or a disability that prevents the wearing of masks
  • Courts of law; meetings or sessions of the Nebraska Legislature; individuals accessing federal, state, county, or city government services; congregate living settings; group homes and residential drug and/or mental health treatment facilities; or shelters

“To slow the increasing spread of the virus, it’s important that the mask requirement includes everyone, regardless of vaccination status, because of the aggressive and highly contagious Delta variant,” said Health Director Pat Lopez. “Wearing a mask is a commonsense measure that has a strong impact. As a community, we know masks work based on first-hand experience. The previous mask mandate contributed to a lower case rate and lower death rate in Lancaster County than other highly populated counties in the state.”

“This most recent surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths affects everyone – vaccinated and unvaccinated alike,” said Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. “The actions we take as a community to slow the spread of this virus, guard our hospital capacity, protect those unable to be vaccinated, and keep our economy thriving matter. The next few weeks are critical.”

Law enforcement will not issue tickets to individuals for non-compliance.

So far this month, 18 Lancaster County residents have died from COVID-19. Fourteen were unvaccinated. Seventy percent of the Lancaster County population age 16 and older is now fully vaccinated. Nearly 25,000 county residents were vaccinated over the past eight weeks, an increase of nearly 70 percent since the beginning of July.

You can find more information on the DHM here.

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