Dakota County, Grand Island Join Rest of Nebraska in Phase 3 Reopening

June 30, 2020, 2:40 p.m. ·

(click to expand) The Dept. of Health and Human Services has issued guidance for reopening in four phases. (Credit: Nebraska DHHS)

Four Nebraska counties will move into Phase 3 of reopening next Monday, which will bring the entire state under the same distancing guidelines.

The four counties were among the hardest hit early on in the pandemic: Dakota County in northeast Nebraska, and Hall, Hamilton and Merrick Counties in central Nebraska.

Phase 3 allows bars and restaurants to open at full capacity and increases the limit on public gatherings.

Central District Health Department Director Teresa Anderson says new COVID-19 cases have declined significantly in the past five weeks.

"The governor and I joked about this a little bit because we’ve both been getting plenty of feedback from the community saying, why are we not up with the rest of the state as far as being in Phase 3?" Anderson said. "Our response was we need to go slowly here. We don’t want to open up too fast and find we’ve made a mistake."

There are about 1,700 confirmed cases in the three-county district. Only about a hundred cases have been confirmed in the past month.

Phase 4 of reopening would remove nearly all of the limits, but would keep gatherings at indoor facilities to 75% of rated occupancy.

The governor’s office has not indicated when the state will move into this final phase of reopening.