LINCOLN, NE – Beginning Monday, July 20th masks will be required while inside any public indoor space. Health officials said this action comes after seeing a spike in coronavirus cases in Lancaster county.
Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said at a news conference Friday that the county is projected to exceed the highest recorded number of positive COVID-19 in a week.
Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department issued rules that any building open to the public must require all people ages five and older to wear masks indoors.
Exceptions include the following:
People seated at bars or restaurants eating or drinking
People whose jobs prevent the wearing of a mask
Purchasing goods or services that require temporary removal
Speeches, lectures or broadcasts
People with medical or other conditions that prevent the wearing of masks
“To understand what’s at stake, you only have to turn on the news and see what’s happening across the country. No one wants Lincoln to become the next Miami, Houston, or Phoenix… This virus doesn’t play favorites… This virus is coming for us too,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird.
“What makes Lincoln different from Miami, Houston, and Phoenix- and other parts of the country where the virus is surging- is that we have a head start. We have a head start that they no longer have on managing this virus”.
Republican Governor Pete Ricketts’ office issued a statement saying “while the Governor encourages the use of masks in appropriate situations, he strongly disagrees with the mayor’s decision to mandate masks. This is not a data-driven decision based on the current numbers in Lancaster County at this time”.
The Governor’s office is reviewing legal options regarding the mayor’s health requirement.
Lincoln resident Scott Kempkes says the Governor’s office should intervene.
“Our freedoms are slowly being eroded here,” Kempkes said. “It’s way too much.”
Other residents like Ryan Klotz say the mandate could help reduce positive cases.
“I just think if everyone wears a mask for like six weeks will see a big decrease in numbers,” Klotz said.
The mandate is in effect until August 31, at which point it will be reevaluated.