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Omaha City Council to vote on mask mandate Tuesday

Posted at 5:19 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 16:42:10-04



The Omaha City Council is slated to vote on a mask ordinance on Tuesday.

The emergency ordinance argues exposure to the coronavirus is "widespread and poses significant risk of harm, including death, to the people in the general population of the City of Omaha."

If passed, all people five years or older would have to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose while indoors in an area open to the general public. That includes places like educational institutions.

Exceptions would be in place for various situations, including if:

  • A person is seeking federal, state, county or city government services.
  • A person is seated at a bar or restaurant to eat or drink, or while consuming food or beverages
  • A person is obtaining a service or purchasing goods or services that requires the temporary removal of the face covering
  • A person is asked to remove the face covering to verify an identity for lawful purposes
  • A person is providing a speech, lecture or broadcast to an audience as long as six feet of distance from others is maintained
  • A person cannot wear a face covering because of a medical condition, mental health condition or disability
  • A person is engaged in activities like showering or swimming

The ordinance would go into effect immediately if six council members vote yes. If the emergency mask ordinance isn’t approved a regular mask mandate could be approved on August 25 if it gets four votes.

The Douglas County Board of Health planned to put a mask mandate in county-wide but it was dropped following legal challenges. Gov. Pete Ricketts has been a vocal opponent of mask mandates. He prefers to take an educational approach to mask wearing and doesn't want to criminalize the behavior.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert issued a statement on Friday, saying: "I have consistently expressed my strong opinion that wearing a mask will help reduce the risk of COVID 19 exposure and infection. If the City Council approves the new city ordinance to temporarily require masks, I will support it."

Read the full ordinance here.