The updated requirements and guidance documents to help local businesses prevent the spread of COVID-19 are now available at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov. The website includes specific information for restaurants, childcare facilities, barber shops and hair salons as well as massage therapy, nail technology, and body art establishments. Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and Pat Lopez, Interim Director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) thanked the business community for working with the City on the documents.
“Our businesses and other local institutions have been compliant, supportive and patient,” Lopez said. “They have been very receptive to the new requirements, and they have been proactive in implementing preventive strategies. By working with our community partners, we have developed guidance for them that accommodates business needs while still protecting the health of employees and the public.”
The current COVID-19 Directed Health Measure (DHM) for Lancaster County expires Sunday (May 10, 2020), and the new one that takes effect Monday, May 11 will align with the State’s DHM for Lancaster County. The new measures will allow the following:
- Restaurant dining rooms may operate at 50-percent capacity, with guidelines for physical distancing, hygiene, face coverings, and other measures.
- Beauty and nail salons, barber shops, massage therapy services, and body art establishments will be allowed to open while maintaining the 10-person rule, with employees and customers wearing masks.
- Childcare facilities will be allowed to have up to 15 children per room.
Both DHMs continue to prohibit gatherings or events with more than ten people, and Mayor Gaylor Baird urged the public to continue to take precautions to limit the spread of the virus.
“The risk of failing to practice physical distancing, wear face coverings and other such measures is not merely a health risk; it is also an economic risk.” Gaylor Baird said. “The degree to which we adhere to those personal prevention measures will determine the degree to which we help save lives and livelihoods.”
Earlier this week, LLCHD issued guidelines for the resumption of in-person worship services and the future opening of local farmers markets. Those are also posted at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov.
The current local and state DHMs allow religious services to resume without being subject to the 10-person public gathering limitation. The houses of worship must follow state and local guidelines.
Gaylor Baird and local health officials had a virtual meeting with faith leaders earlier this week. She said they are exploring innovative ways to meet the needs of their communities while minimizing the risk to public health. “Many are opting not to hold in-person services at this time, which is a decision that we understand and respect,” she said. “We look forward to continuing our engagement with these leaders, and we deeply appreciate the important role they serve in supporting, connecting, and guiding our residents.”
The Mayor said those who are sick or at-risk for complications from COVID-19 should remain at home. She said staff, volunteers, and congregants are advised to check their temperatures before leaving home. Faith communities are also advised to continue virtual services for those who are unable to attend in person.
Other guidelines include the following:
- Seating must be arranged to allow congregants, staff, and musicians to be at least six feet apart from each other.
- Lines for entering, exiting and communion should be managed to ensure appropriate physical distancing between people.
- To accommodate physical distancing, houses of worship may want to additional service times, use overflow rooms, have drive-in services, provide signage, and add volunteers.
- Seating, doors, restrooms, and common areas must be sanitized between services.
- Those distributing communion must thoroughly wash and sanitize their hands.
- Have hand sanitizer and sanitizing products available at entrances.
- All those attending should wear face coverings.
Activities not allowed are passing items between people; using books, hymnals, and other materials that remain in a house of worship for general use; using common communion cups; nursery services; and any gatherings or social functions outside of the worship services. Funeral and wedding services must also adhere to these guidelines, and receiving lines for those services are not permitted.
Under the State DHM, farmers markets are not considered public gatherings because of the nature of the business and the ability to create appropriate social distancing. The Mayor said local health officials have worked with the State and the operators of the markets to develop guidelines that will allow them to continue to operate in a way that is safe for everyone.
To maintain physical distancing, the guidelines advise markets to allow for tables and booths to be farther apart; to remove seating to discourage gathering; to not offer music and kids activities; and to have staff circulate to enforce social distancing.
The guidelines also include the following:
- Vendors will not be allowed to provide samples, and they will be encouraged to wear disposable gloves.
- Food will be limited to whole produce and packaged food items. Customers will be asked not to touch produce but to point at the items they want.
- Vendors are encouraged to round prices to the nearest dollar to avoid using coins, and to have only one person handle the money.
More information on COVID-19 and the City’s response is available at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov. The website includes information on how those with symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested in Lincoln.