LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — On Monday Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said it’s time to return to normal in regards to COVID-19. In order to do this, the governor announced the end of pandemic related Directed Health Measures (DHM), an end to the state’s participation in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program and executive orders which were signed in response to the pandemic.
The first change will come tonight at 11:59 p.m. with the expiration of a DHM that requires quarantining or isolation due to exposure to the virus. With about 975,000 Nebraskans having received at least one dose, the governor said it’s time to bring that order to a halt.
The next part of the governor’s plan is bringing an end to executive orders which loosened restrictions for a number of state services and businesses. Executive orders 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2021 and 2022 will all expire on June 1.
The governor said changes will bring an end to:
- Allowing bars and restaurants to offer take-out alcohol options
- Waiving regulations regarding examinations and audits for financial institutions
- Eased unemployment eligibility requirements
- Relaxed motor carrier regulations
- More freedom for the Department of Labor when processing unemployment claims
The last part of the governor’s plan is to discontinue the state’s participation in the COVID-related unemployment benefits program, which is offered by the federal government. Ricketts cited a recent report that showed Nebraska’s unemployment rate to be the lowest in the country and one of the lowest throughout the pandemic. The federal program provides an additional $300 a week to those who have filed for unemployment and it will end June 19.
Ricketts said he believes this will encourage about 15,000 people who are currently receiving benefits through the program to apply for jobs that are available at a rate of about two-to-one.
The governor said vaccines are safe, they work, and he added that people should still consider getting them. He said he also respects the decision of people who are not getting vaccinated. The governor reiterated his stance against organizations implementing a COVID-19 vaccination passport system.
When asked if Nebraska is considering options to encourage vaccinations such as multi-million-dollar lotteries being offered in states like New York, the governor said it is not.
Ricketts said today’s COVID press conference will be the last one he does barring a resurgence of the virus. If that were to occur, he said the state could reinstate the DHMs, executive orders or Nebraska’s participation in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.
He also encouraged organizations that may have mask requirements to end those requirements.
Another part of getting “back to normal” is encouraging tourism in the state, whether it’s at a local level or checking out other parts of Nebraska, said the governor.
On this front, Nebraska Tourism Commission Executive Director John Ricks talked about the Nebraska Passport program which is entering its 12th year. By visiting nebraskapassport.com or by downloading the Nebraska Passport app, people can find a list of events and attractions throughout the state to explore.
First Lady Susanne Shore also spoke about the site neimpact.org/reflects, which will allow people to honor and read stories about those who have stepped up to help their communities in Nebraska as the pandemic took hold.
Watch their remarks below or on our Facebook page.