Based on monitoring trends in COVID-19 data, restrictions will be eased in nine northern Nebraska counties — Antelope, Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Holt, Keya Paha, Knox, Pierce and Rock.

These counties, in the North Central District Health Department jurisdiction, will move to Phase 4 of the Directed Health Measures starting Aug. 1, Gov. Pete Ricketts recently announced.

Previously, the Loup Basin Health Department district moved to Phase 4 on Friday, July 24. The Loup Basin district consists of Blaine, Custer, Garfield, Greeley, Howard, Loup, Sherman, Valley, and Wheeler counties.

As of Sunday, the North Central district had 78 known cases of COVID-19, according to the district’s dashboard data. The total was 112 in the Loup Basis district.

Under phase 4, restrictions on bars, restaurants, childcare facilities, salons, receptions, and gyms are lifted. Indoor gatherings are allowed at 75% of room capacity, and outdoor gatherings are allowed at 100% of capacity.

Keeping social distances and wearing face coverings are still recommended.

For more information about phase 3 and phase 4 restrictions, click HERE.

“Transitioning from the Phase 3 of the DHMs to Phase 4 does not mean that personal responsibility for reducing virus transmission is to be ignored,” said Roger Wiese, the executive director of the North Central District Health Department. “I strongly encourage all citizens that may be feeling ill with COVID-19 symptoms and/or those that have been in close sustained contact with someone who is ill to take precautions and keep appropriate social distance,” Wiese said.

“Science and the collection of data is what will guide this office as we are dealing with this novel virus and its novel means of transmission. With everyone working together and being good neighbors to one another, we can continue to manage any aggressive spread of this virus and protect the residents, especially those who are vulnerable, in our nine counties by maintaining good social distancing, wearing of face barrier when appropriate and incorporating other preventative measures,” Wiese said.