Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced a statewide mask mandate on Tuesday for certain indoor and outdoor activities and gatherings as cases of the Chinese coronavirus spike in the Hawkeye State.
Reynolds announced the implementation of a mask mandate as part of a proclamation aimed to reduce the spread of the Wuhan virus. The proclamation requires proper social distancing at any “social, community, recreational, leisure or sporting gathering” and limits group sizes to eight people, unless the group is “from the same household.”
Any outdoor gatherings that exceed 100 people will be “prohibited” unless individuals in the group wear masks or face coverings. The same rule applies to indoor gathers that exceed 25 participants. The mask mandate, in those situations, applies to everyone over the age of two and permits individuals to remove their masks to eat and drink.
“In addition to these distancing and masking requirements, at an indoor youth sporting or recreational gathering, only two spectators are permitted for each youth athlete,” per the governor’s office.
Masks are also required at “salons, barbershops, massage therapy establishments, tattoo establishments, tanning facilities, and other establishments providing personal services.”
The governor is also “strongly” encouraging Iowans to generally wear a mask in “public settings,” particularly when it is not possible to maintain a six-foot distance from others.
According to the governor’s office:
Bars and restaurants continue to be required to ensure six feet of physical distance between each group or individual dining or drinking; to ensure all patrons have a seat at a table or bar and consume alcohol or food while seated; and to limit congregating together closer than six feet. And a group seated together is now limited to 8 people unless the entire group is from the same household.
Bowling alleys, pool halls, bingo halls, arcades, indoor playgrounds, and children’s play centers are now required to ensure that groups and individuals remain six feet apart at the establishment. And groups at those establishments must also be limited to 8 people unless the entire group is from the same household.
In order to discourage any unnecessary gathering in workplace settings, the proclamation also orders all employers to evaluate whether any more of their employees can feasibly work remotely and to the extent reasonable, shall take steps to enable such employees to work from home.
Reynolds also urged Iowans to “consider avoiding” events that do not adhere to the proclamation. Such events include “weddings, funerals, bridal showers, baby showers, birthday parties, holiday celebrations, conventions, indoor entertainment, spectator sports, private parties, tailgating, and vacationing.”
“You can still eat in a restaurant, you can still go to a movie and work out at the gym, and in many states you can’t do that,” Reynolds said, defending the proclamation. “Iowa is open for business and we intend to keep it that way. That’s why it’s time for these additional mitigation measures.”
The proclamation goes into effect 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, November 11, and will remain in place through Thanksgiving, until Monday, December 10.
Reynolds has long resisted a statewide mask mandate, questioning the practicality of enforcing such a measure.
“With the cities that have mandated masks, you know, I would say that what they did, that they strongly recommend, because they know that it doesn’t, it’s not enforceable,” she said in August.