Nebraska to end nearly all social distancing restrictions

Nebraska to end nearly all social distancing restrictions

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts will end nearly all of his state’s social-distancing restrictions on Monday even as the number of new coronavirus cases has trended upward over the last few months.

The new rules will still limit the size of large indoor gatherings, such as concerts, meeting halls and theaters, but will drop all other state-imposed mandates in favor of voluntary guidelines, as other conservative states have done.

“We are loosening the restrictions further on Sept. 14,” Ricketts said at a news conference.

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State officials said they made the decision based on the availability of hospital beds and ventilators, in keeping with the Republican governor’s goal of not overwhelming medical facilities.

“The goal has always been to protect hospital capacity and capacity remains stable,” said Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage.

Nebraska’s hospitals have 36 percent of their regular beds, 31 percent of their intensive care unit beds and 81 percent of their ventilators available, according to the

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