As May gives way to June, Washington County and the state of Nebraska are one step closer to returning to a “normal” way of life, though it may be a new normal as people continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, Gov. Pete Ricketts issued changes to the state's directed health measures for a Phase 2 for reopening.

Starting June 1, team sports, including baseball and softball, can resume practices and games June 18. Gatherings will be limited to 25 people or less or 25 percent of rated occupancy of the venue, not to exceed 3,000.

Bars and restaurants, gyms, salons, barber shops massage therapy services and tattoo parlors can all reopen but at 50 percent of the rated occupancy.

Wedding and funeral reception venues can also open, but also with limitations.

As the state reopens, it's important for residents to remain vigilant. If we don't, we'll be right back where we were. Keep washing those hands, wear masks and take the necessary steps to keep you and others safe.

Yes, life must start to return to normal, but it's critical that we take the advice of healthcare professionals, city and state leaders and remain aware of our surroundings.

While it's important to continue to use precautions as the state reopens, Nebraskans should still consider themselves fortunate. With just more than 12,600 cases, Nebraska has not been immune to this pandemic.

Yes, we were affected here, some worse than others. But, we should feel encouraged that we were never totally locked down, we have a solid economy and we live in an area that is not as densely populated.

Other areas of the country, including the East Coast, have been hit hard. New York City alone has nearly 200,000 cases and more than 16,400 deaths.

So, return to work, patronize businesses that reopen and above all be safe.

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