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Nebraska and Iowa take two different approaches to mask mandates
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Nebraska and Iowa take two different approaches to mask mandates

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LINCOLN — Nebraska and Iowa have embarked on two different paths for dealing with COVID-19.

On Monday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds became the latest state executive to impose a statewide mask mandate in an effort to control the spread of the virus. The move came as Iowa ranked third in the nation for new cases per capita.

In Nebraska, with a fifth-place ranking, Gov. Pete Ricketts held fast to his opposition to a broad mask requirement. His response, when asked about the Iowa mandate, was to say that every state is different and that masks are only one tool to fight the pandemic.

But Ricketts has ordered mask-wearing in limited circumstances, and the state’s two largest cities have instituted their own mandates.

Here are some detailed requirements for wearing masks:

Iowa. Indoor spaces open to the public and in state executive agency buildings. When people from different households are within 6 feet of each other for 15 minutes or more. Applies to age 2 and older. Among the exceptions are people eating or drinking, exercising, giving a presentation or performance before an audience or participating in a religious gathering.

Nebraska. Indoor businesses, but not other public indoor spaces. When staff and patrons are within 6 feet of each other for 15 or more consecutive minutes. No age limit specified. Exceptions for patrons receiving facials or other services to the face.

Omaha. Premises open to the general public, including educational institutions. Unless people maintain 6 feet of separation from any nonhousehold member. Applies to age 5 and older. Among the exceptions are people seeking government services, eating or drinking or asked to remove a mask to verify identity for law enforcement.

Lincoln. Indoor spaces, including public or private educational institutions, except residences. Unless people maintain 6 feet of separation at all times and are not in the same room or workspace with a nonhousehold member. Applies to age 5 and older. Among the exceptions are people seeking government services, eating or drinking, exercising at least 6 feet from another person or asked to remove a mask to verify identity for law enforcement.


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Martha Stoddard keeps legislators honest from The World-Herald's Lincoln bureau, where she covers news from the State Capitol. Follow her on Twitter @StoddardOWH. Phone: 402-473-9583.

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