City of Lincoln and Lancaster County Coronavirus (COVID-19) - How to Help

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Face Covering Requirement for Lincoln and Lancaster County

Information and frequently asked questions

Face Covering Requirement for Lincoln and Lancaster County
Mask Mandate Flyer

Mask Required for Entry Sign

Mask Required for Entry Sign

Businesses and establishments can print and post this Mask Required for Entry Sign.

See the Business Resources page for more information, resources and recommendations, or call 402-441-6280.

graphic of mask

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department has issued a local Directed Health Measure (DHM) that states any individual or entity which owns or operates any premises other than a residence, including but not limited to private and public educational institutions or school districts, shall require all individuals age five (5) and older to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose while indoors unless the individual is able to and maintains at least six (6) feet of separation at all times and is not in the same room or workspace from anyone else who is not their household member. The DHM also requires business owners to ensure their patrons age five and older wear face coverings any time they cannot maintain six feet of separation with non-household members.

The DHM, which includes the mask mandate, goes into effect Saturday, April 10 and continues until April 23.

The DHM includes exceptions. Masks are not required for the following:

  • Is engaged in federal, state, or county government services in the location those services are provided;
  • Is engaged in exercise and six (6) feet of separation can be maintained at all times;
  • Is engaged in an occupation preventing the wearing of a face covering;
  • Is obtaining a service or purchasing goods or services that requires the temporary removal of the face covering during the service or the purchase;
  • Is giving a speech, lecture, or broadcast to an audience so long as six (6) feet of distancing from other individuals is maintained and only while said speech, lecture, or broadcast is being delivered; or,
  • Cannot otherwise wear a face covering because of a medical condition, a mental health condition, or a disability that prevents the wearing of a face covering.

The City will continue to focus on education rather than enforcement, but will prosecute repeated offenses or deliberate non-compliance. Those who observe suspected violations should not call the Police or Sheriff's 911 or non-emergency numbers. Those lines of communication must remain open for emergencies. Those situations should be reported to UPLNK either through the phone app or online at Businesses with questions on the DHM may call 402-441-6280.

Visit Business Resources for business reopening guidance and recommendations.

Where can I get face coverings?

Face coverings and cloth face coverings for the public are widely available.

Make Your Own

CDC has instructions for making your own face covering, with both sew and no-sew instructions. For the no-sew option, you'll need fabric, like an old t-shirt, cotton cloth, or bandana, rubber bands or hair ties, and scissors.

Buy One
  • Local stores (pharmacies, big box retailers, etc.)
  • to order locally sourced face coverings
  • Online retailers (Amazon and many others)
  • Or contact the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department at 402-441-8045
Enforcement of this Policy

We have established a complaint team that will evaluate the complaints and determine the best way to provide education to individuals and businesses that are noncompliant with the Order. The goal of this team is to ensure that face coverings are worn when required by providing education first before looking towards enforcement. When necessary, enforcement will generally focus on businesses or individuals that despite attempts to educate continue to violate the Order, such as businesses who do not require customers and/or staff to wear face coverings.

  • Complaints regarding compliance can be uploaded through UPLNK.
  • Calls from businesses with compliance questions can be directed to 402-441-6280.
  • Do not call 911 to report non-compliance with the mandate.
  • Our compliance assistance work will be similar to how we have handled other DHMs, with LLCHD working with businesses and other organizations to provide education and gain compliance.
  • LPD or LSO will not be issuing tickets to individuals for non-compliance.
Your Role as an Individual

You should not ask someone why they aren't wearing a face covering. It is not your job to intervene if someone isn't wearing a face covering. Some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a cloth face covering difficult or dangerous. Your job is to wear your face covering and stay six feet away from others.

Face Covering Discrimination and Equity

Not everyone is required to wear a face covering. Some people with disabilities, physical or mental health conditions, and very young people (under 5) are not required to wear face coverings because doing so may cause harm to that person. Although the DHM requiring face has a broad exemption for people with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows for businesses to provide reasonable accommodations in the form of alternate services (e.g., curbside pickup or delivery instead of in person shopping) for a person who cannot wear a face covering because of a disability. For more information regarding face covering accomodations, please see guidance provided by the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights at

Why it's Important to Wear a Face Covering

Face coverings help prevent the spread of the virus.

  • Your face covering protects me, and my face covering protects you. Wearing a cloth face covering will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in stores and restaurants).
  • Face coverings work best when we all wear them. Face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when face coverings are used along with other preventive measures , including physical distancing , frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
Wear a mask to protect yourself and others

Transmission probabilities with and without masks (courtesy Bryan Health)

Frequently Asked Questions About Face Coverings

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What is a cloth face covering?

A cloth face covering is material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton or linen. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand.

How well do cloth face coverings work to prevent spread of COVID-19?

Evidence suggests that use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic could help reduce disease transmission. The primary role of a face covering is to reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes.

How should I care for a cloth face covering?

Wash your cloth face covering frequently, ideally after each use, or at least daily. Keep cloth face coverings in a separate paper bag or bin until they can be laundered with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. If you must re-wear your cloth face covering before washing, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face.

Discard cloth face coverings that:

  • No longer cover the nose and mouth
  • Have stretched out or damaged ties or straps
  • Cannot stay on the face
  • Have holes or tears in the fabric
Are there precautions I should take with my face covering?
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer each time you put on and remove the covering. Hands should also be washed after removing the face covering. People should avoid touching their faces and the face coverings while wearing them.
  • Do not put a used face covering in places where others can touch them or where germs trapped in your face covering can touch other surfaces, such as counter tops or your kitchen table.
  • Do not throw your face covering loose into a bag or backpack. Store your face covering in a paper bag if you will be taking if off when outside the house.
How long can I use a paper face covering?

If you use a paper face covering that is not for health care workers, it is recommended that you use a new one every day. Used paper face coverings should be thrown out at the end of the day.

What standard is used to determine application of exemptions?

If an individual is asked to wear a face covering in a business and expresses that they fall within the exemptions, they are taken at their word and allowed to patronize the business.

I'm not able to wear a face covering for medical condition, mental health reason, or disability. Do I need documentation about why I can't wear a face covering?


How long do I need to wear a face covering?

You are required to wear a face covering for the entire duration of the time you're in an indoor setting open to the public with people you don't live with. We strongly recommend wearing a face covering when you're in an outdoor setting where you're unable to maintain six feet of distance from people you don't live with. Remember, with any gathering, physical distancing is required.

Does the face covering requirement apply to worship services?

It applies if they are open to the public. But a church could maintain 6 feet of separation between everyone (family groups as before) and then they wouldn't need to wear face coverings.

Does the mask requirement apply to businesses that see customers by appointment only?

If the staff of the business and the customer can maintain 6 feet of distancing at all times, they would not need face coverings.

Does the new DHM change any operation requirements for hotels/hospitality centers hosting events, i.e. weddings?

If people are having a wedding inside, they need to wear facial coverings if they can't maintain 6-foot social distancing. If they stay in family units and stay 6 feet apart, no covering would be required.

Am I required to wear a face covering when I am using public transportation, a taxi or a school bus?

Yes, you are required to wear a face covering when riding on public transportation. Taxi cabs and ride sharing operators can require you to wear a face covering.

Do I need to wear a face covering when I'm just going over to someone's house?

No. The DHM excepts dwelling units (homes). We strongly recommend wearing one if you're gathering outside and are unable to maintain six feet of distance from people you don't live with. Remember, with any gathering, physical distancing is required.

Do I need to wear a face covering while walking my dog, out for a jog, etc.?

No, you do not need to wear a face covering outside. However, it's a good idea to keep one with you in case you need it, like if your dog's leash gets tangled up with another dog, you run into a chatty neighbor, or you decide to stop into a business.

Do individuals that have already tested positive for COVID-19 still have to wear a face covering?


Can I wear a face covering that has a valve?

Technically this meets the requirements of the order because it covers your nose and mouth. However, we recommend not using this type of face covering because droplets and particles can get through. We recommend a cloth face covering instead or on top of a face covering with a valve.

My goggles or glasses fog up when I wear a face covering. What can I do?

Here are some tips.

Is a space that has some open walls considered an outdoor space?

No, a space must be completely open on all sides to be outdoors. Opening windows does not create an outdoor space.

Are face coverings required inside gyms and yoga studios?

Yes, when you are going into and out of the gym. However, you may remove your face covering when you are engaged in exercise.

Do I need to wear a face covering while swimming or in a pool?

No. A face covering should be used as you are coming to and going from the pool.

I live in an apartment or condo with multiple units. Am I required to wear a face covering in the common areas (hallways, lobby, etc.)?

It depends. The DHM requires face coverings be worn in premises open to the public. It is recommended you wear a face covering when you are in the common areas.

If I am in an enclosed office alone with a door, do I need to wear a face covering?

Staff only need to use a face covering if they are indoors and could come into contact with others who are not part of their household or living unit. If staff are in an office space with a closed door where no one could enter the space, then no face covering is needed.

How do I wear a face covering while I'm eating or at a restaurant?

You can remove your face covering while eating and drinking. You should wear it when waiting for your food or in transit inside a restaurant.

Do I need to wear a face covering when I am picking up food outside using curbside service?

A face covering is not required but recommended.

Are workers that sleep at their place of employment (for example: EMS, firefighters, paramedics) required to wear face coverings while sleeping?

No. Physical distancing must be maintained.

What do I do if I see someone not wearing a face covering, even though they should be?

Nothing. Some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a cloth face covering difficult or dangerous. Just wear your face covering and stay six feet away.

More information on how to protect yourself and others is available at the CDC website.

Lincoln COVID-19 Response Fund

This fund will provide resources to nonprofit organizations responding to the coronavirus pandemic in Lincoln. Hosted by Lincoln Community Foundation and led by a coalition of leaders from across the community, the Fund will provide resources to organizations in Lincoln working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Interested nonprofits may apply here for COVID-19 response funds.


The NeighborLNK program is designed to facilitate personal connections by directly linking volunteers with seniors (age 60 and over) or persons with disabilities who are homebound and seeking additional support as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

The program is designed to help keep homebound residents healthy, connected, and independent during the physical isolation required by the pandemic, as well as to cultivate bonds of friendship that could potentially last beyond the pandemic.

NeighborLNK volunteers will do errands for the participants and offer companionship through phone or video calls. COVID-19 precautions will be followed, and volunteers will not enter participants' homes.

Practice Healthy Habits

Continue to practice healthy habits:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Stay home when you are sick .
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

When you shop:

  • Stay home if you are sick or if you have symptoms of COVID-19 - fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • Seniors and others at risk for complications from the virus should take advantage of special hours for them at retailers.
  • Arrange for groceries to be delivered, or use the store's curbside pickup service.
  • Only one person in a household should go to the store.
  • Limit grocery shopping to one trip a week.
  • Make a list to limit your time in the store.
  • Wear a face covering and disposable gloves.
  • Do not take backpacks or reusable bags.
  • Use the wipes provided by the stores to clean grocery cart handles
  • Take a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you.
  • Stay at least six feet away from others.
  • Pay attention to one-way aisles and floor markings at the checkouts.
  • Only touch products you intend to buy, especially produce.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes and nose.
  • Cover sneezes and coughs.
  • Instead of using cash, pay for items with credit or debit cards, or use epay options.
  • When you get home, wash your hands, wash all produce, and use wipes for other purchases.
  • Do not return items to the store.
Keep Physical Distance

Follow guidelines for physical distancing and crowd size limits. Even if you aren't showing symptoms of any illness, you could still be carrying the virus and unknowingly spread it to people with compromised immune systems.

Support Local Businesses

If you have the means, continue to support local businesses:

  • Purchase gift cards for future use, if they are offered. Some local gift cards can be found at
  • Order take-out or delivery. Many restaurants that don't usually offer these options are making exceptions.
    • Take advantage of free parking spots downtown designated for curbside pickup by looking for the green curbside pickup signs. This site also contains a list of restaurants and establishments downtown offering curbside pickup.
  • Support businesses that are still operating during this period. For a list of open businesses, see the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce's business operation updates and this COVID-19 Lincoln business directory hosted by oh hello!.
  • Purchase a Small Businesses, Big Hearts t-shirt designed by one of Lincoln's own small businesses. Profits go toward supporting small businesses across the state.
  • Tip generously if you can afford it. Tipped workers are some of the first to suffer in times of economic distress.
  • If you're able to work from home and still earn your normal salary, commit to paying someone who provides you with a service – such as a hairdresser or a babysitter – even if they have to stay home.
Volunteer and Reach Out Safely
  • Nebraska Impact has organized a portal at for connecting people with opportunities to volunteer with or donate to Lincoln organizations. Volunteers can choose "COVID-19" under "select a category."
  • Service Opportunities during COVID-19 provides volunteer opportunities in the City of Lincoln. If you would like to volunteer or have an unmet need, you can request to have your opportunity listed in Lincoln's GivePulse portal, a volunteer signup web portal. If you are looking to serve, current opportunities are listed below.
  • Reach out to those you know who are isolated or may be at high risk. Ask how they are doing and check in with them regularly.
  • Start a group text with your neighbors and friends to keep up on one another's health and needs.
  • The COVID-19 Mutual Aid Lincoln/Omaha Facebook Group is one way to offer and provide support to community members with specific needs.
  • Start a virtual book club or arrange virtual playdates.
  • Do not hoard supplies like hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Panic buying these items will make it harder for at-risk groups to get the things that they need.
  • Make an appointment to donate blood if you can safely do so. Blood banks have been faced with a severe blood shortage as a result of blood drive cancellations. Eligible and healthy donors may make an appointment with the American Red Cross or the Nebraska Community Blood Bank to provide lifesaving blood products to patients.
Volunteer for the Tenant Assistance Project

The Tenant Assistance Project is dedicated to providing access to free attorneys to tenants facing eviction in Lancaster County Court. Most tenants facing eviction cannot afford an attorney, and evidence shows that access to an attorney can help prevent homelessness.

The program is currently seeking volunteer attorneys to represent tenants in a limited scope capacity. Volunteer attorneys will be appropriately trained, have malpractice insurance coverage, and will have the chance to provide an invaluable public service.

Interested volunteers should contact the Volunteer Lawyers Project by emailing or calling 531-220-6773.