Douglas County expands gathering limit to 50, removes operating hour restrictions on restaurants and bars

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Starting Wednesday, bars and restaurants in Douglas County will no longer be subject to restricted operating hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and mass gatherings in the county can expand to up to 50 people, health officials announced Tuesday.

Since mid-February, restaurants and venues that served alcoholic drinks were required to close at midnight and the county gathering limit stood at 25 people — but due to increased vaccination rates and a still-slowing spread of the respiratory virus, health officials felt it safe to once again loosen restrictions.

“As our community continues to vaccinate more and more residents, I continue to believe we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to this pandemic,” Douglas County Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino said in a statement. “However, it’s critical we not let our guards down.”

The new public health order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, March 10, and changes include:

  • Expanding the mass gathering limit from 25 people to 50 people. Mass gatherings are defined as instances in which individuals are in one location and are unable to maintain 6-foot distance between individuals, not including individuals who reside together.
  • Removing the requirement under a public health order to close premises at midnight at venues and establishments serving food and drink, including alcoholic beverages. The social distancing and masking requirements remain in effect.

According to the order, the following guidelines also remain in effect:

  • An indoor capacity limit of 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy of the facility where the gathering is occurring. This applies to entertainment venues, recreational facilities, restaurants, bars and other businesses serving food and/or drink indoors.
  • A requirement for all people older than 5 to wear masks in all indoor public spaces — except when eating, drinking, swimming or if they have a medical condition that prevents it — and outdoor public spaces where they are unable to maintain 6 feet of social distance.
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