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Gov. Ricketts issues order closing schools, restricting restaurants in multiple counties

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Posted at 2:52 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 19:01:46-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts released the state's first Directed Health Measure (DHM) in response to the spread of the coronavirus. It will apply to all communities in Educational Service Units (ESU) #3 and #19 which include Cass, Douglas, Sarpy, and Washington counties.

The DHM provides the following requirements:

  • Restaurants and bars in these areas to close their dining areas immediately and move to takeout service, delivery, and/or curbside service only until further notice.
  • Schools in these areas are directed to operate without students in their buildings. This restriction does not apply to school staff working in school buildings.
  • Limits on "gatherings" in multiple settings

You can read the full DHM document here.

Regions outside ESU #3 and #19 will "remain under the guidance issued on Monday by the Governor’s Office." If another case occurs in other regions "the Governor will announce DHMs covering the additional regions."

Douglas County will also be expected to adhere to the order presented yesterday by County Public Health Director Dr. Adi M. Pour which lasts through April 30. The order placed limitations on bars, restaurants and daycares. You can read the full document here.

The governor's office provided the following information:

Who does the Directed Health Measure apply to?

It applies to places such as theaters, churches, houses of worship, gyms, social clubs, salons, and social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, concerts, and athletic events. This is not an exhaustive list, but illustrates the types of locations the DHM applies to.

Do I need to shut down my bar or restaurant?

At bars and restaurants, it applies to patrons, not to your workforce. Restaurants and bars are encouraged to ask their patrons if they can prepare their order for takeout upon arrival. Restaurants will play a key part in feeding people throughout the pandemic.

Do I need to shut down my daycare?

No. DHHS has issued new guidance that daycares need to follow. You can find it by clicking here [dhhs.ne.gov].

Do I need to shut down my office?

No. The Directed Health Measure does not apply to places such as office buildings, grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, court houses, court rooms, banks, car dealerships, auto repair shops, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, small shops, golf courses, big box stores, gas stations, convenience stores, shopping malls, manufacturing facilities, packing facilities, construction jobs, and other traditional office settings. This is not an exhaustive list, but illustrates the types of locations the DHM does not apply to.

Update:

Sarpy County officials issued a joint statement, saying they are prepared to honor the DHM and provided the following statement:

Earlier this afternoon Governor Pete Ricketts announced the state’s first Directed Health Measure (DHM) for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The measure imposes an enforceable limit on public gatherings. This is a necessary step to prevent the spread of a communicable disease. All Sarpy County government entities and the City of Plattsmouth strongly support this order. According to the Governor’s Office, this health measure applies to all communities in Educational Service Units (ESU) #3 and #19, which includes Cass, Douglas, Sarpy, and Washington counties. It will be in effect until April 30, 2020.

Among other steps, the DHM requires restaurants and bars in these affected areas to close their dining areas immediately and move to takeout service, delivery and/or curbside service only. The DHM further prohibits the gathering of more than ten (10) patrons or customers, excluding staff, in a single room or single space at the same time. This includes, but is not limited to, daycares (including in-home facilities), gymnasiums, salons, fitness centers, auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, large event conference rooms, meeting halls, theaters, libraries, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space. Additionally, schools in these areas are directed to operate without students in their buildings. This restriction does not apply to school staff working in school buildings.

This order mandates all local police departments within Cass and Sarpy County, as well as the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Department to enforce the order, which requires these business closings and attendance limits. Liquor, beer, and wine sales are restricted to carry-out sales and delivery only, to the extent permitted by law. The DHM also prohibits the onsite consumption of liquor, beer, and wine.

The DHM does not apply to courts, medical providers, public utilities, critical city and county operations, logistics/distribution centers, congregate living setting, shelters, public transportation, airports, retail, grocery stores, fuel centers, or other spaces where ten (10) or more person may be in transit. It also does not include typical office environments.

This order will cause people to have a number of questions. The following are a few resources:

· For questions regarding enforcement, please email questions@sarpy.com

· For questions regarding the pandemic please call the Sarpy/Cass Health Department at 402-339-4334 or go to https://www.sarpycasshealthdepartment.org/.

All entities involved understand the financial hardship this will put on our business community, but at this time our priority is the safety and health of all our residents. The goal of this order is to reduce illness, minimize spread and preserve our health care system with the goal of getting back to normal as soon as possible.