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Gov. Ricketts: “It’s time to return to normal”

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 5:30 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Gov. Pete Ricketts gave what he called his final coronavirus briefing on Monday. With it, he announced the end to four federal assistance programs for Nebraskans, including the federal pandemic unemployment compensation, which provided an extra $300 a week.

According to the state, there are 40,000 open jobs in Nebraska of all skill levels. The state’s unemployment rate is 2.8 percent which is tied for best in the country.

“It’s time to return to normal. For the people who say employers should raise their wages, employers should pay what the market demands to hire people. The government should not be interfering in that by artificially driving that up by offering an additional $300 a week.” Gov. Ricketts said.

Gov. Ricketts is also stopping pandemic-era executive orders on June 1. One of which, is the ability for bars and restaurants to provide take out alcohol. However, there is some legislation moving through the unicameral that would make that legal. That proposed legislation is on the governor’s desk right now.

Gov. Ricketts also issued a new executive order to prohibit masks from being mandated in State of Nebraska office buildings. Under the same order, individuals who had been working remotely because of the pandemic will return to in-person work.

Also gone tonight at 11:59 p.m., the statewide DHM which required quarantining.

“We’re in a position right now that we can return to normal, that we’re obviously going to still encourage people to get vaccinated, but the things that we did to preserve our hospital bed capacity are not going to be necessary anymore,” Gov. Ricketts said.

This is all a culmination of Nebraska’s current pandemic numbers, with 73 hospitalized patients - the lowest since they started tracking data last April.

There was an average of 60 new coronavirus cases in Nebraska per day last week. For comparison, Nebraska averaged nearly 2,300 per day in late November.

“As we move forward together, I thank all Nebraskans for what they’ve done over the last 15 months. The sacrifices they’ve made to slow the spread, preserve hospital capacity and live a more normal life,” Gov. Ricketts said.

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