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Video of Ricketts unmasked making the rounds on social media
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Video of Ricketts unmasked making the rounds on social media

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COVID news conference 11.12

Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is in quarantine, appears via television screen to deliver his coronavirus briefing in the Governor's Hearing Room at the Capitol on Nov. 12. 

Video of Gov. Pete Ricketts, maskless, and surrounded by others without masks on election night shared by a 25-year-old Omaha sports bar employee continues to make the rounds on social media.

Some people are also incensed she was fired for the tweet. 

Ricketts was attending an election party for state Sen.-elect Rita Sanders at a DJ's Dugout location when the video was shot. It shows Ricketts standing among a group of people who are talking and laughing, and the employee standing in another area saying, out of his earshot, 'Where's your mask, Pete? What are you doing, Pete? We're in a pandemic, Pete."

The 17-second video was posted Nov. 3 under the Twitter handle Keezyoko, who Tuesday tweeted: "Since i just got fired for posting this tweet, if anyone would like to donate to this lovely single mama, I'll be posting my venmo and cashapp shortly." 

(Alert: This video contains language some viewers may find objectionable.)

Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue said she reached out to the employee after she saw the video and her tweets to verify she had been fired.

Darwin Hanssen, president of DJ's Dugout, said the employee was fired Tuesday, after management learned she recently posted the video, taken while she was on duty. That is a violation of the sports bar’s social media and cellphone policies, he said in a statement.

New employees are given a copy of the policies, he said, and required to acknowledge receipt of the handbook and agree to comply with rules, regulations and policies.

"Although the social media post is believed to be political in nature, DJ’s Dugout respects each of its employee’s political affiliations, beliefs, and activities permitted under law," Hanssen said. "However, these political affiliations, beliefs, and activities do not represent those of DJ’s Dugout."

Blood said the violation would be worth a reprimand, not loss of a job.

"Essential workers are hard to come by right now," she said. 

She told the worker she would help her find legal assistance or any other help needed because she was a single mom. 

Sen. Megan Hunt posted a photo of Ricketts at the same event, posing with 21 other people, all without masks, including Sanders. 

On Hunt's Twitter thread, "Jaimes" posted: "I’m so damn mad at this. I own a small business in Lincoln who is now open by appointment only so we can control how many people are in my tiny shop at once & can CONTACT TRACE if need be & he is doing stunts like this. Irresponsible & a kick in the gut, honestly." 

Ricketts, who is under quarantine with his wife until Sunday because of an exposure to COVID-19 at a small dinner at his home, has said repeatedly that people should stay home as much as possible, work at home if they can, avoid crowded places, close contacts and confined spaces.

He has also encouraged people to wear masks and socially distance when with people outside their households during the virus surge that is setting daily records for numbers of positive cases. Hospitalizations are high and the numbers of deaths are climbing.   

Taylor Gage, Ricketts' spokesman, said the governor was wearing a mask when he entered and exited DJ's Dugout on election night, as is required under Omaha's mask mandate. He removes his mask temporarily for pictures, Gage said, and did so that evening. 

Kearney joins list of Nebraska cities with mask mandates

About seven seconds into the video, Ricketts does take a baby that is handed to him and appears to pose for a photo. 

He also removed his mask when sitting down at the sports bar, Gage said. Rules don't require people to wear masks when seated in bars or restaurants to eat or drink. 

Ricketts says no mask mandate, readies communications campaign
Cities outside Lincoln and Omaha can enact mask mandates, state senator says

Images of Lincoln during the pandemic

Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSLegislature

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