Governor Ricketts Updates Nebraska COVID Pandemic Response Plan With New DHM Effective December 12

LINCOLN – With a decrease in COVID hospitalizations in Nebraska, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that Nebraska will move from the ‘orange’ to ‘yellow’ phase of its coronavirus pandemic response plan.

According to a release from the governor’s office, the new Directed Health Measures (DHMs) will take effect 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, December 12. The new DHMs change some of the restrictions put in place to help manage the coronavirus pandemic.

Nebraska’s pandemic response plan links DHM restrictions to the percentage of staffed hospital beds in Nebraska filled by coronavirus patients.  The percentage is below 20% (7-day rolling average), which is the threshold for the State moving to the ‘yellow’ phase of its pandemic plan.

Moving from the ‘orange’ to ‘yellow’ phase involves the following DHM changes:

  • Fan attendance at extracurricular activities—both school and club—is no longer limited to household members of participants. NSAA member schools received direct communication from the NSAA instructing them that current NSAA guidelines will remain in effect until the NSAA announces updated guidelines.
  • Parties at restaurants and bars remain limited to groups of eight or less.  Individuals must still be seated unless ordering food, using the restroom, or playing games.  Six feet of separation between groups returns to a guidance.
  • The maximum capacity for indoor gatherings goes from 25% to 50%.
    • Only certain venues where people convene are considered “gatherings” under the State’s DHMs.  Go to and click on “Directed Health Measures” for details.
  • Masks are recommended, rather than required, for establishments such as childcare centers, salons, barber shops, massage therapists, and body art studios.
  • Elective surgeries can resume as long as a hospital keeps 10% of its capacity available to treat coronavirus patients.


New DHMs will be posted on the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website in the coming days.  To view them, go to, and click on the link for “Directed Health Measures.”

Executive Order 20-36 will remain in place.  It gives public bodies the option to meet virtually by videoconference or teleconference through January 31, 2021.  Full text of the executive order is available by clicking here.

A chart comparing the color-coded phases of the State’s pandemic response plan is available by clicking here.