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Restaurant, dental leaders discuss May 4 Nebraska restart

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

At his daily press briefing on April 28, Governor Pete Ricketts talked about best practices to resume elective surgeries at dental offices and dining in restaurants.  Dental facilities with sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) can resume operations in Nebraska as of Monday, May 4.  In some regions of Nebraska, restaurants will be able to reopen their dining areas on May 4 as well.

Zoe Olson, Executive Director of the Nebraska Restaurant Association, overviewed the safety precautions restaurants are taking as they prepare to serve guests.  Dr. Charles “Fritz” Craft, Director of Dental Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and Dr. Ken Tusha, past president of the Nebraska Dental Association (NDA), also joined the Governor today.  They talked about their industry’s efforts to ensure that the reopening of dental clinics takes place safely and smoothly.

Gov. Ricketts: Test Nebraska Reminder

·     Nebraskans have completed about 100,000 health assessments as of this morning.

·     We need every Nebraskan to go to TestNebraska.com right now and to fill out this quick assessment.

·     We expect scheduling for the first two Test Nebraska testing sites in Grand Island and Omaha to begin soon.

o  We need people not just in these cities, but in the surrounding areas, to take the assessment now.

o  We will begin contacting folks to schedule testing in the near future.

Gov. Ricketts: New Guidelines for Restaurants

·     Last Friday, I announced that we would reopen some of the businesses that temporarily closed on a regional basis.

·     Our Directed Health Measures will require the following for dine-in restaurants:

o  Seating will be limited to 50% of a restaurant’s maximum occupancy rating.

o  Each dining party must maintain a minimum of six feet of separation from other dining parties.

o  Each dining party will be limited to six persons (groups larger than six will need to be seated at separate tables).

o  Self-serve buffets and salad bars are prohibited.  Restaurant staff must serve food directly to customers or implement buffet orders from the customer table. No customer self-service is permitted.

o  Each dining party must be seated at its own table.  Bar and counter seating are not permitted.

o  Patrons may only consume alcohol on the premises if also consuming a meal.

·     Today, the State of Nebraska is unveiling new guidance for restaurants.  It is available by clicking here.

o  Among other things, this guidance includes having all restaurant workers wear cloth masks, limiting the number of roles a worker plays, and pre-screening workers to ensure their health.

Zoe Olson: Resuming Dine-In Services at Restaurants

·     Dining rooms won’t reopen statewide on May 4.  They will reopen on a regional basis.

·     Together with our members, the National Restaurant Association, and subject matter experts, we’ve developed guidance for restaurants as they reopen their seating areas.

·     It’s available at our website: nebraska-dining.org.

·     The Nebraska Restaurant Association will be posting the reopening guidelines in restaurants for diners to view.  The association will also post the reopening requirements issued by the State of Nebraska.

·     Additionally, we encourage Nebraskans to avoid dining if they have any symptoms of illness.

·     We’re doing everything in our power to make restaurants the safest environments possible for customers.

·     We’ve been moving tables farther apart, doing extra sanitizing, and implementing other policies to keep everyone healthy.

Dr. Fritz Craft: Resuming Dental Services

·     As the dental profession prepares to resume elective surgeries, the DHHS Office of Oral Health, the Nebraska Board of Dentistry, and the Nebraska Dental Association (NDA) have been in constant communication.

·     We’ve pooled our resources to review the latest evidence-based information from the American Dental Association, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare.

·     We want to ensure that our message to the dental community is clear and consistent at this critical time.

·     We also want to assure the general public that dental services will proceed with safety precautions for patients, dental staff, and providers.

·     The NDA has been working hard to produce interim guidelines and recommendations for dental offices.

·     Their final report has been reviewed by DHHS and the Board of Dentistry.  It will be a living document with ongoing revisions as more becomes known about COVID-19.

·     As dental services resume, there will be enhanced patient screening, elevated PPE, higher levels of infection control, and limitations on certain procedures.

·     The decision to reopen or remain closed is up to each dental practice.

·     The new guidelines produced by the NDA will assist providers in making this decision.

Dr. Ken Tusha: Resuming Dental Services

·     The NDA’s Recommended Office Opening Protocols can be accessed by any member of the public at nedental.org.

·     Dentistry probably won’t come back on like a light switch.  It will be more like a dimmer switch.

·     We’re going to slowly open our offices after we’ve trained out whole team in the new protocols.

·     The new guidelines include training, health screening of teammates, and health screening of patients as they come in.

·     We’re taking steps to eliminate person-to-person interactions in waiting rooms.

·     We’re also going to have enhanced disinfection and make sure everyone has the proper PPE.

·     I’m confident we have the guidelines in place to operate safely.