Lincoln YMCA's Reopening Marks Another Turn in Coronvirus Story

May 19, 2020, 12:31 p.m. ·

Sign at northeast Lincoln YMCA (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

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As health restrictions ease in Nebraska, the Lincoln YMCA is preparing to reopen with modified operations starting next Monday.

Barb Bettin, president and CEO of the YMCA of Lincoln, says technically, the facilities never had to close. But she says they did so out of a sense of social responsibility on March 17. Now, she says, the balance has tipped in favor of reopening.

"Poor health and underlying health conditions are key risk factors with this virus. And so we think we play a role in helping individuals stay healthy, not only physically but mentally and socially," Bettin said.

Bettin says when the Y’s reopen next Monday, they’ll have different protocols in place for cleaning, staff wearing masks, and limits on groups, for example, in weight rooms.

"We’ve gone in and taken out some of the equipment so it’s not as densely populated…with weight equipment so that people can adhere to social distancing," she said.

And she says starting June 1, the Y’s will resume one of their most important roles, in childcare.

"We think we’re a huge part of getting parents back to work and we run very large day camps – childcare -- in the summer. And so we are moving forward and we will be running day camps at two of our sites this summer. And we’ve called all the families and there’s definitely a need out there. I think childcare is going to be one of the biggest voids that we may see until people ramp back up in their childcare businesses," she said.

Bettin says the reopening will be phased in. The downtown YMCA will remain closed for the time being, while many people continue to work from home, and amenities like towel services and steam rooms will be suspended. But she says the plan is to move forward.

"We think we can carefully step into a safe environment. I think we’ll continue to learn as we go on. But I feel like everyone should feel safe and know that we’re doing everything humanly possible at this point to bring people back," she said.