An illustration of coronaviruses morphology created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced the state's first Directed Health Measure (DHM) for COVID-19, which includes Washington County.

The DHM imposes an enforceable limit on public gatherings. The measure comes after the Douglas County Public Health Department confirmed its second case of community transmission of COVID-19.

Three Rivers Public Health Department, in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, has begun enforcement of public social gathering limitations, according to a press release from Three Rivers Executive Director Terra Uhing.

The DHM applies to all communities in Educational Service Units No. 3 and No. 19. Counties included in addition to Washington are Cass, Douglas and Sarpy. The DHM will be in effect until April 30.

The DHM requires restaurants and bars in these areas to close their dining areas immediately and move to takeout service, delivery and/or curbside service only until further notice.

Schools in the areas are directed to operated without students in their buildings. All three of Washington County's districts closed indefinitely Monday.

Uhing said it is "critical" that scheduled events be modified, canceled or postponed. Public gatherings are generally defined as any event that brings together more than 10 patrons, customers or other invitees, excluding staff, in a single room or single space at the same time, including but not limited to, a school, daycare facility, gyms, salons, fitness centers, auditorium, stadium, arena, large event conference room, meeting hall, theater, library or any other confined indoor or outdoor space. 

This also includes weddings and funerals, as well as parades, fairs, festivals, concerts and other indoor and outdoor events.

Understanding the Directed Health Measure

Who does the Directed Health Measure apply to?

It applies to places such as theaters, churches, houses of worship, gyms, social clubs, salons and social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, concerts and athletic events.  This is not an exhaustive list, but illustrates the types of locations the DHM applies to.

Do I need to shut down my bar or restaurant?

At bars and restaurants, it applies to patrons, not to your workforce.  Restaurants and bars are encouraged to ask their patrons if they can prepare their order for takeout upon arrival.  Restaurants will play a key part in feeding people throughout the pandemic.

Do I need to shut down my daycare?

No.  DHHS has issued new guidance that daycares need to follow.

Do I need to shut down my office?

No.  The Directed Health Measure does not apply to places such as office buildings, grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, court houses, court rooms, banks, car dealerships, auto repair shops, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, small shops, golf courses, big box stores, gas stations, convenience stores, shopping malls, manufacturing facilities, packing facilities, construction jobs, and other traditional office settings.  This is not an exhaustive list, but illustrates the types of locations the DHM does not apply to.

Do I need to cancel a wedding or a funeral?

Weddings and funerals are also subject to the 10-person limit.  Event planners and facilities are encouraged to be flexible with people who are rearranging their plans.

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