Nebraska is Open — But Don’t Throw Safety to the Wind

Summer is almost here. More than half of the US population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — including over 62% of adults ages 18 and older, and just over 60% of adolescents and teenagers ages 12 and older.* The light at the end of the tunnel is becoming clearer by the day. Nebraskans can expect things to look almost back to normal.

Keyword: Almost.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions now that Nebraska is open — and why we’re “almost” back to normal vs. “completely” back to normal.

*These percentages are as of June 1, 2021. View the latest updates from the CDC here.

What restrictions are still in place?

Nebraska is following a color-coded reopening plan that is tied to coronavirus-related hospitalizations. There are five phases (red, orange, yellow, blue, and green) and each phase has its own restrictions.

Currently (as of June 1, 2021) Nebraska is in the green zone, which is the least restrictive of the zones. In fact, the green zone doesn’t come with any restrictions. Stores, restaurants, places of worship, schools, salons — all are allowed to be open at 100%. There are no limits on weddings, funerals, and indoor or outdoor gatherings.

Remember that individual businesses may have their own policies and limitations in place, and it’s important to respect these.

My child is fully vaccinated. Do they need to wear a mask or socially distance?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fully vaccinated individuals (meaning it has been two weeks since their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks since their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) can resume their daily activities without wearing masks or social distancing. They also do not need to get tested if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 but are asymptomatic.

However, there are a few exceptions and things to keep in mind:

  • Continue following any mask or social distancing policies that individual businesses have in place.
  • Your child should still get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19. They should not visit any public or private settings if they have tested positive within the past 10 days or are symptomatic.
  • The risk of a vaccinated person becoming infected, experiencing no symptoms, and then passing it onto someone else is low — but it still exists. According to the CDC, if you are fully vaccinated, you can stop wearing masks or social distancing with:
    • Others who are fully vaccinated
    • Unvaccinated people from only one other household, unless they or anyone they live with have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (e.g., they are immunocompromised).

What about if they are immunocompromised?

If your child has a weakened immune system — such as from cancer or an organ transplant — they should continue wearing a mask, even if they are vaccinated. If you are unsure if your child has a weakened immune system, contact their pediatrician for guidance.

Children’s is now vaccinating children ages 12 and older. To schedule a vaccination appointment, call your Children’s Physicians pediatrician’s office or 402-955-SHOT from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for an appointment.

Visit our COVID Vaccine Clinics page to learn more.

My child is not fully vaccinated. However, Nebraska is lifting the mask mandate and opening businesses at capacity. What does that mean for my unvaccinated child?

The CDC recommends that anyone who is not fully vaccinated follow the prevention measures we’ve come to know like the back of our (sanitized) hands: wear a mask, stay six feet apart from others, avoid crowds, and wash hands frequently.

The CDC also deems it safe for unvaccinated people to:

  • Walk, run, bike, or wheelchair roll outdoors with members of their household, without wearing a mask
  • Attend small, outdoor gatherings with people who are fully vaccinated, without wearing a mask
  • Attend small, outdoor gatherings with both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people, while wearing a mask

Just remember mask safety. Children under age 2 should not wear masks, and masks should never be worn during activities like swimming where they can get wet (a wet mask is harder to breathe through).

Learn more about the CDC’s mask and activity recommendations for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

What about summer travel?

If everyone in your household is vaccinated, you can all safely travel within the US. International travel is fairly safe, but does come with an increased risk of getting or spreading certain COVID-19 variants (different versions of COVID-19 that occur when the virus changes).

But if anyone in your household is not fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends delaying any travel — both within the US and abroad.

If your child does need to travel but is not fully vaccinated, follow the CDC’s guidelines:

  • By car: Make as few stops as possible. Pack plenty of snacks for the trip. If you do stop at a gas station or use a public restroom, wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • By train or bus: Try to sit or stand more than 6 feet apart from others and use a face covering at all times.
  • By plane: Social distancing is a little trickier if it’s a crowded flight, so pay extra attention to keeping your face covered and sanitizing your hands frequently. If possible, book flights with the fewest stops and layovers.
  • At a hotel: If you can, leave early in the day to avoid stopping for the night. However, it’s important to get a good night’s sleep when you’re on the road, so don’t push through if you’re tired. Just make sure to keep washing your hands and to follow the hotel’s rules about masks.

Keep checking back for updates on staying safe. If you have any questions about COVID-19, call our dedicated COVID-19 help line at 402-955-3200.

Children’s is now vaccinating children ages 12 and older. To schedule a vaccination appointment, call your Children’s Physicians pediatrician’s office or 402-955-SHOT from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for an appointment.


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