State Watch

Iowa governor reverses course, issues statewide mask mandate

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) reversed course and issued a statewide mask mandate on Monday after previously resisting calls for the requirement as the coronavirus surges in the state. 

Reynolds addressed the public and signed a proclamation Monday night that requires those 2 years old and older to wear a mask in indoor areas open to the public where they will be within six feet of people who are not members of their household for 15 minutes or longer. 

The proclamation will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and will last until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 10.

The mask mandate does not apply to those eating or drinking at bars and restaurants, those with medical disabilities preventing them from wearing a mask, and those participating in religious services, the Des Moines Register noted

“I’m afraid that these mild cases have created a mindset where Iowans have become complacent, where we’ve lost that sight of … why it was so important to flatten the curve,” she said during her public address.

Reynolds also prohibited indoor gatherings of 15 people or more and outside gatherings of 30 people or more in her announcement. These gatherings include weddings and funeral receptions, family gatherings, and other nonessential gatherings of people who do not live or work together indoors, her office noted in a release

The governor’s order will also require restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, arcades, pool halls, bingo halls and indoor playgrounds to close at 10 p.m. for indoor guests. 

“These measures are targeted toward activities and environments where they have the potential to make a significant impact in a relatively short amount of time,” she said. “That doesn’t mean these changes will be easy or popular, but they’re necessary if we want to keep our businesses open, our kids in school and our health care system stable.”

Her mask mandate comes as Iowa has seen a rapid increase in new COVID-19 cases since mid-October. The state documented a record 4,381 new cases last Monday and broke its record for most current hospitalizations on Monday with 1,392, according to the COVID Tracking Project

Last Wednesday, Reynolds issued her first coronavirus restriction in months, with a mandate for masks at some indoor gatherings of 25 or more people and some outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people. 

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R), who also resisted issuing a mask requirement, mandated masks Friday night for indoor business and public settings and outdoor locations where social distancing is not possible amid a rise in cases in that state.

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus restrictions COVID-19 face coverings face masks Iowa Kim Reynolds mask mandate Masks Pandemic

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