Here in Nebraska — and in many states across the US — certain stay-at-home orders are slowly becoming relaxed. Restaurants are starting to offer in-restaurant dining, and barbershops and salons are finally giving people a break from their new shaggy ‘dos. Finally, it seems like there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.
But business isn’t quite as usual. Most businesses have strict rules, regulations, and restrictions that they’re required to follow in order to keep their customers safe.
And when it comes to keeping your child safe — especially if they have a chronic medical condition — it’s important to know exactly what to expect and how to further protect your child.
The Back to Business Basics
Nebraska may be opening back up, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for everyone to go out.
If you or your child are considered high-risk, you have symptoms of COVID-19, or you have been in close contact with someone with the virus, the best thing to do is continue to stay home. Remember that you can still go on socially distanced walks outside, order in take-out, and stay social through online services and apps.
Dining Out (Finally!)
(NOTE: This information pertains to Phase 2 of reopening Nebraska. As of June 1, all counties in Nebraska except for Dakota, Hall, Hamilton, and Merrick counties will be entering Phase 2. See where your state stands on reopening).
Restaurants are starting to reopen for dine-in service. In order to protect diners, restaurants in Nebraska can only have 50% maximum occupancy at all times.
If you go to a restaurant, here’s what you can expect:
- You can only have up to six people in your dining party, even if there are more than six of you in your household. That doesn’t mean you can’t go in together — you will just have to split into multiple tables.
- All tables will be a minimum of six feet apart from each other.
- You will need to sit at a table — no eating at bar seating is allowed.
- Arcade games or games like darts will be prohibited.
Also, while you shouldn’t let your guard down (please still wear masks when you’re not eating and sanitize!), rest assured that restaurants are taking extra precautions to protect customers. Employees are required to wear face coverings, disinfect tables and chairs after anyone has used them, and disinfect high-touch surfaces every 4 hours.
Pro-tip: Call the restaurant ahead of time. They may have new hours or waitlist policies.
Travel: Hit the Road With Caution
Whether you have planned a weekend at Grandma’s or a vacation to Disney World, telling your child that you have to postpone the trip can be heartbreaking. But even though certain restrictions have been relaxed, it’s unfortunately not the time to resume non-essential travel — especially if it’s out of state.
Many cases of COVID-19 have been linked to out-of-state travel. In fact, at the end of March, it was estimated that more than 80% of confirmed cases in Nebraska were related to travel or close contacts of people who had recently traveled.
There are a few times when you and your child might have to do a little traveling. For example, if you live far from the hospital and your child needs medical care, you may need to travel, or even cross state lines. Please do not hold off on getting your child essential care, even if it means making a trip.
If you do have to travel, follow these recommendations:
- 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, wipe down all surfaces and 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, disinfecting surfaces, and sanitizing your hands frequently. If your child brings along a comfort item, like a stuffed animal or blanket, put it in the laundry right after the flight.
- At a hotel: If possible, 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. If you have to stay at a hotel, bring your own disinfectants and wipe down all surfaces, like doorknobs and light switches.
After traveling out of state (unless you’re a commuter), self-quarantine for 14 days and carefully monitor yourself and your child for any symptoms.
Exercise and the Great Outdoors
Exercise is always key for staying healthy, and it’s even more so now that your child is out of school and may want to just stay in playing video games all day. And now that beaches and parks are opening back up, it can be tempting to think that going outdoors for exercise is totally safe.
But is it?
The short answer is, yes! Getting that fresh air and sunshine can boost your mood, decrease stress and anxiety, and even help control blood pressure. The longer answer is yes, but only for certain activities.
Make sure your child stays at least 6 feet away from others at all times and that they don’t play any sports with shared equipment, like soccer balls or basketballs. Many parks are open, but take a look before letting your child play there. If it’s crowded and might be difficult to social distance, the park is probably not the place to be.
Also, even if playgrounds are open, it’s best to avoid them. Germs can easily linger on monkey bars and slides. Instead, try outdoor activities like:
- Running or walking
- Playing a sport with a sibling they live with
- Flying a kite
- Jumping rope
- Playing hopscotch
- Using sidewalk chalk
If your family is now at home more than ever before, you may be cooking more often and going through household supplies quickly. On top of that, you’re probably taking on the role of home school teacher and desperately trying to come up with new ways to keep the little ones entertained.
This is your new “everyday” — so what do those activities look like now?
Playdates: No school — especially if you are an essential worker and need childcare — might seem like a great time to have kids get extra playtime together. But kids need to socially distance, too, so playdates and slumber parties need to wait.
Grocery Shopping: Have a shopping list so that you don’t have to spend extra time in the store browsing, and wait to go down aisles if you won’t be able to stay 6 feet away from another shopper.
If possible, go to the store by yourself — but don’t do so at the expense of leaving your child in the car or having them stay home alone if they don’t do that yet. If you have to bring your child into the store, keep their face covered.
Places of worship: Starting May 4, places of worship (churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.) have the green light to resume services, weddings, and funerals. However, all households must keep at least six feet apart from each other.
Whether you start going out more or remain at home, remember to keep up with COVID-19 prevention. Practice social distancing (staying 6 feet apart from others), wear face coverings in public, wash your hands frequently, disinfect high-touch surfaces, and stay home if you have any symptoms.
Keep checking back for updates on staying safe as new businesses open back up. If you have any questions about COVID-19, call our dedicated COVID-19 help line at 402-955-3200.