Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) on Monday announced Monday further plans to reopen businesses in the state and transition out of a lockdown enacted in response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, Reynolds said starting May 1, 77 counties have been identified to lessen COVID-19 mitigation restrictions. According to her, the 77 identified counties have witnessed a downward trend in coronavirus activity over the last two weeks.
In a press release, Reynolds said:
In the 77 counties, the proclamation permits restaurants, fitness centers, malls, libraries, race tracks, and certain other retail establishments to reopen in a limited fashion with public health measures in place. In addition, the proclamation lifts the restriction on religious and spiritual gatherings so long as churches and other gathering hosts implement reasonable public health measures. All other regulatory relief previously provided to affected Iowans is also extended until Wednesday, May 27, 2020.
Reynolds will also allow some businesses to reopen if they choose to do so; however, they must comply with certain restrictions. Restaurants, fitness centers, and retail stores will be allowed to open with 50 percent of normal operating capacity.
Enclosed malls will be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity, but play areas cannot be operated in those locations.
I have signed a new proclamation loosening social distancing measures in 77 Iowa counties effective Friday, May 1st.
Read more below: https://t.co/4Fh66Cz9a2
— Gov. Kim Reynolds (@IAGovernor) April 27, 2020
“It’s a phased-in approach, we’re opening slowly,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds also said she would ease restrictions on religious gatherings, however, religious organizations will be required to practice social distancing and hygiene guidelines implemented by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The governor also announced that all other closures will remain in effect until at least May 15, 2020, and recommended that Iowa residents continue to exercise social distancing measures.
“All other existing closures will be extended for the entire state through May 15,” Reynolds said. “I strongly encourage all vulnerable Iowans, including those with preexisting conditions, and those older than 65 around the state, to continue to limit their activities outside of their homes.”
Bars, theatres, gaming facilities, social clubs, amusement parks, museums, zoos, salons, barbershops, and massage therapy establishments will remain closed, according to the statement.
The remaining 22 counties that will continue mitigation efforts include Woodbury County, Allamakee County, Benton County, Black Hawk County, Bremer County, Dallas County, Des Moines County, Dubuque County, Fayette County, Henry County, Iowa County, Jasper County, Johnson County, Linn County, Louisa County, Marshall County, Muscatine County, Polk County, Poweshiek County, Scott County, Tama County, and Washington County.
In addition to Reynolds’ statement regarding the reopening of the state, the Iowa State Legislature announced Monday that it would suspend current sessions until May 15.
“The health and safety of all Iowans continues to be our primary focus as we monitor the situation and make decisions,” said Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley. “I know my colleagues are eager to return to the Capitol to address priorities and complete our legislative work as soon as we can.”
“Iowans have been patient and played a critical role in slowing the spread of the Coronavirus during this unprecedented public health emergency,” Grassley added. “We need to get folks back to their jobs, schools, churches, and social lives in a responsible way as soon as possible. I want to thank Governor Reynolds for her cautious approach to reopen our state and return to normal.”