Gov. Kim Reynold lifts mask requirement, allows bars and businesses to resume normal operations

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new proclamation on Friday that relaxes many current COVID-19 public health guidelines. The proclamation will go into effect on Feb. 7.


Ryan Adams

Gov. Kim Reynolds gives the State of the State address in the house chamber of the Iowa State Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 in Des Moines. Gov. Reynolds highlighted in the address expansion of broadband internet, a push for in-person learning, and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

Gov. Kim Reynolds lifted the state’s partial mask mandate and will allow bars, restaurants, and other businesses to function at normal capacity, in a new proclamation issued Friday.

Starting Sunday, gatherings will no longer be limited and face coverings will no longer be required. The relaxed measures will be in place until March 7, or until further notice.

According to a press release from Reynolds’ office, this order was also modified to reflect the passage of Senate File 160, or the bill that will require schools to offer a 100 percent in-person learning option.

This order also comes as Iowa remains one of the slowest states in distributing vaccines. Reynolds said on Thursday that the state is currently looking for a partner to help speed up vaccine rollout and centralize the registration process.

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld wrote a letter to downtown Iowa City businesses in August, criticizing them for disregarding social-distancing measures. The bars were blamed for the spike in COVID-19 cases when students returned to campus in August, prompting Reynolds to close down bars in Johnson and Story Counties. Reynolds allowed bars to reopen in October with some restrictions.

Bars are currently required to observe social distancing and other mitigation measures. It’s unclear if businesses downtown will continue enforcing coronavirus mitigation efforts, or if bars will open their doors to resume normal operations. The UI did not immediately respond to The Daily Iowan’s request for comment.

As of Feb. 4, 2021, Iowa has 5,000 positive COVID-19 cases which is half of what the state saw just a month previously.

The proclamation included a note for Iowans to continue to be responsible as the pandemic continues.

“I strongly encourage that a gathering organizer or host take reasonable measures under the circumstances of each gathering to ensure the health of participants and members of the public, including social distancing practices, increased by hygiene practices and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 consistent with guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Health,” Reynolds said in the proclamation.