As Lancaster County reports its first case of community spread COVID-19 businesses and residents are being ordered to operate to new guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department Interim Director Pat Lopez says the directive takes effect 8 AM Thursday morning and bans gatherings of 10 or more people in single spaces.
Lopez says the new directive includes schools, daycare facilities, in-home facilities, fitness centers, gyms, auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, large event conference rooms, meeting halls, theaters, libraries and more.
Daycare and childcare facilities will be allowed to operate as long as groups of 10 or fewer children are maintained. If more than one group of children is cared for, each group shall be separated.
In gatherings of less than 10 people, a distance of 6 feet or more needs to be maintained, effectively banning barbershops and nail salons as well as tattoo and massage parlors.
The directive will be upheld for six weeks and is enforceable with repeat or serious offenders potentially facing up to six months in jail, a $500 fine or both.
Officials stress such enforcement is being considered a last resort, with initial complaints being answered with an educational response.
Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird says she knows that the new directive will create hardships but has faith Lincolnites will continue to do what is necessary to minimize the toll the virus takes when and if reported cases grow.