Gov. Reynolds places restrictions on gatherings, businesses, youth sporting events

posted on Thursday, November 12, 2020 in News

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has announced new restrictions on social gatherings and businesses in Iowa, which will require attendees at most public events to wear masks.

The number of people hospitalized while testing positive for COVID-19 has placed a strain on the state's hospital systems. As of 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1,190 Iowans were in the hospital with COVID-19. A total of 210 of those Iowans are in intensive care units.

"Because of the high level of community spread at this time, we're vulnerable to the virus even in casual gatherings with friends, neighbors and extended family members," Gov. Reynolds said in her press conference. "I know we're all experiencing pandemic fatigue, but we can't let our guard down just because we're getting together with people we know or doing things that are most familiar to us."

Butler County has reported 139 new positive cases since Nov. 4, for a total of 621 positive cases. Of those cases, 437 have been flagged as recovered. As of Nov. 9, six Butler County residents were confirmed as patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

If more than 25 people are gathered at a public event indoors, all persons over two years old must wear masks unless eating or drinking. Masks are also required for gatherings of 100 or more persons outdoors. These restrictions do not apply to schools, churches, or the Iowa Legislature when it reconvenes in January, should the restrictions still be in place.

For youth and high school sporting events, the same rules apply for mask wearing if more than 25 people are in attendance indoors, but attendance will be further limited as only two spectators will be permitted for each competing athlete. This restriction will notably not apply to the high school football playoffs, scheduled for Nov. 12-14 and Nov. 19-20 at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. Attendance at the UNI-Dome will be limited, however, to 15% of the Dome's capacity, or 2,400 fans. The governor's office had previously said that the UNI-Dome would not be subject to these restrictions, but UNI leadership changed course on Wednesday afternoon. All non-athletes must wear masks and will be spaced out into pods based on groups of tickets sold.

Restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, arcades and indoor playgrounds are also exempt from this mask ruling, but six feet of distance is required in-between each group in these establishments, which must be limited to no more than eight people unless the group are all members of the same household.

People working at or soliciting services from salons, barbershops, massage therapy establishments and tanning facilites are also mandated to wear masks except when performing face services.

"If we want to protect our health care workers, keep our businesses open and our kids in school, and our hospitals open, now is the time for every Iowan to carefully consider what more you can do to prevent being exposed to the virus and further spreading it," Reynolds added.

These measures took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 11 and will continue until 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 30.

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