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Health officials change youth sports guidelines, masking policy

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 10:30 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) on Tuesday announced the COVID-19 Risk Dial will move to low yellow. This is the first time the dial has ever been in low yellow, and it is the lowest risk level achieved since the dial was launched nearly a year ago.

The yellow level indicates that the risk of the virus spreading and the impact on our community are moderate. On the color-coded dial, red represents the highest risk of COVID-19 spread, and the green represents the lowest risk.

One of the changes starting Friday will be with youth sports. City officials said there will not be a limit on the number of spectators a player can bring as long as the event doesn’t go over 75% capacity.

Kids have been back on the field for months now, crowd sizes have been limited.

Lincoln parent, Ashley Gates, said, “It is a bit of fresh air and you feel like you have some normalcy again.”

But this will all change as there won’t be a four-person limit per family.

“When you don’t have your whole family to come and see you and cheer you on, ya know, you appreciate it when they are here so it’s fun,” Gates said.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings will also be at 75% capacity, but social distancing is recommended rather than required.

In private workplaces, masking won’t be required as long as everyone in the room has been vaccinated.

Health director Pat Lopez said, “This will allow fully vaccinated people to meet in the same conference room and work in the same office without wearing a face covering.”

Places open to the public will still require masking. Lopez credits the fact that 64% of the eligible population has had at least 1 dose of vaccine. So far, 44% are fully vaccinated.

“As we continue to strive for our 75% vaccination rate, we encourage every single person that is eligible to get vaccinated to do it now,” Lopez said.

Other changes to the Directed Health Measure (DHM) include:

  • Limiting groups of individuals to no more than eight or maintaining six feet separation between individuals or groups has been changed from a requirement to guidance. This applies to gatherings, youth activities and sports, food establishments and bars, barbershops, cosmetology establishments, cosmetologists and estheticians, body art facilities, and massage therapy.
  • Events at venues with occupancy of more than 500 people still require approval from LLCHD.
  • Occupancy at restaurants, bars, and other foodservice establishments continues to be 75 percent of occupancy, but the limiting groups of individuals to no more than eight or maintaining separation between individuals or groups has been changed from a requirement to guidance. Individuals must continue to wear masks unless they are eating or drinking.
  • Occupancy at gyms continues to be 75 percent, but maintaining six feet of separation between individuals has been moved from a requirement to guidance.

Health director Lopez said for Lancaster County to reach the green area on the risk dial, at least 75% of the population will have to be vaccinated. She also added the county positivity rate must be below 5% and there has to be a decrease in cases.

As of Tuesday, Lancaster County’s positivity rate is at 5.8%.

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