Omaha mask mandate officially ending

OMAHA, Neb. -- After nine controversial months, Omaha’s mask mandate is ending.

One report says it already has.

When the city council recently refused to extend the mandate, which began in August, it appeared that the mandate would shut down at midnight Tuesday.

But WOWT-TV is reporting that it ended at midnight Monday.

In either case, the city is now the final Nebraska city to remove its mask mandate. It was also the first to enact a mask mandate in the state, but not without debate and controversy over its ability to do so.

Gov. Pete Ricketts initially declared that cities, towns and counties could not enforce locally specific mask mandates, instead arguing that such a ruling would have to come down from the state. But a letter sent by Sen. Justin Wayne to city and county leaders across the state indicated that local governments were permitted to do so, and several towns and cities eventually followed suit.

Douglas County reports over 71,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since March of 2020, with 717 deaths.

State and local reporting indicate that just over 55 percent of those 16-years-old and up have been fully vaccinated in Douglas County.