Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is threatening to withhold federal COVID-19 relief funds from counties that require people to wear masks while inside government buildings and courthouses.
“Counties are not prohibited from requiring masks, but if they want CARES Act money, they have to be fully open, and that means they cannot deny service for not wearing a mask,” Taylor Gage, a spokesperson for Ricketts, said in a statement on Thursday, according to local reports.
Ricketts “encourages people to wear a mask,” Gage asserted, “but does not believe that failure to wear a mask should be the basis for denying taxpayers’ services.”
Nebraska received approximately $1 billion from the CARES Act, of which $100 million may be allocated to counties at the governor’s discretion.
Dakota County Assessor Jeff Curry blasted Ricketts’ mandate.
“It sure would have been nice to be able to sit down with our health director and County Board and have a conversation about what to do, without being mandated to do it,” he told the Omaha World-Herald.