October 28, 2021

Reynolds issues new mask requirements amid surge in Iowa COVID-19 cases

On Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced she will require masks at many public gatherings as new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to set records.

Reynolds, who has not implemented a statewide mask mandate at the request of health officials, pointed to the surge in community spread across the state and is straining hospital resources.

“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 at a Tuesday morning news conference. “Iowa is open for business, and we intend to keep it that way. That’s why it’s time for these additional mitigation measures, but it will take all of us doing everything we can to stop the spread of the virus and keep it at a manageable level that we can live with.”

In her new proclamation, effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday through 11:59 p.m. Nov. 30, Reynolds has set new restrictions on gatherings and mandated masks for larger groups.

Indoor social, community, recreational, leisure or sporting events of more than 25 people or outside events of 100 people are banned, unless all attendees over the age of two wear masks.

All events with more than 10 people must ensure six feet of social distancing between groups and take other precautions.

And at any gathering, groups of people attending these events can be no larger than eight people, with an exception for members of the same household.

For youth and high school sporting events, if more than 25 people are at an indoor event, all spectators over two years of age must wear masks and keep six feet between other spectators. Athletes are not required to wear masks.

Each youth athlete can have only two spectators. Pat Garrett, Reynold’s spokesperson said the two-person spectator limit does not apply to the high school football playoffs, but all those spectators must wear masks.

The mask requirements do not apply to schools and churches, nor do they apply to the state Legislature when it reconvenes in January.

The proclamation mandates masks in salons, barbershops, massage therapy establishments, tattoo establishments and tanning facilities, except when the masks need to be removed for facial services.

Masks are also not required at restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, arcades and indoor playgrounds, which may have more than 25 people inside at a time, but the governor’s order requires six feet of distancing between groups, and a limit of eight people per group unless a larger group is from the same household. In restaurants and bars, people must remain seated when eating or drinking and limit congregating.

In her proclamation, Reynolds recommended employers evaluate whether more of their employees can work remotely. She also encouraged all Iowans to consider their choices in attending gatherings, which she said could lead to “some really hard decisions.” She said people should also consider quarantining after attending events to monitor for symptoms, she said.