(Omaha, NE) -- Omaha's emergency mask mandate is officially now in place and it is different from previous mandates in the city.
Douglas County Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse issued the temporary mandate on Tuesday in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, telling the county board of commissioners Tuesday morning, “This is not a decision I made lightly, this is not an easy decision at all. I know it’s going to create some waves. But this is a tool we have in our toolbox. We have research, evidence out there showing that masks decrease transmission.”
The citywide mandate calls for face coverings to be worn in public by anyone 5 and older, but with some exceptions:
- Those seeking federal, state, city, municipal, or county government services
- Anyone seated at a bar or restaurant to eat or drink, or while immediately consuming food or beverages
- Those engaged in exercise
- Anyone working in an occupation that prevents wearing masks
- Those obtaining services or purchasing goods or services that require temporary removal of masks
- Anyone giving a speech, lecture, or broadcast, or officiating at a religious service, to an audience, which must maintaining six feet of social distancing
- Those participating in a religious service
- Anyone who cannot wear a face covering because of a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents the wearing of a face covering
- Those younger than age 5
Huse says the mandate will be in effect for at least four weeks, or until two benchmarks can be met:
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts both issued statements on Tuesday in opposition to the mandate. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson also said he would be taking the mandate to court, claiming that Dr. Huse didn't have the authority to implement it.