LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Gov. Pete Ricketts says Nebraska could see another flare-up of coronavirus cases because of the demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, but he concluded that allowing protesters to peacefully vent was more important than concerns about the pandemic.

His comments came as new, lighter virus restrictions went into effect throughout most of the state.

The restrictions approved by Ricketts allow bars, zoos, swimming pools and other public venues to reopen, with crowd limits based on a venue’s occupancy.

Protests in Omaha and Lincoln have each drawn more than 1,000 people, often clustered into large groups as they confront law enforcement officers.

Ricketts says officials decided that the protesters' free-speech rights outweigh concerns about the pandemic.

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