What’s open and closed across Iowa as state eases COVID-19 closures
Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Sunday, March 15, 2020, that K-12 schools should close for four weeks to aim to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Des Moines Register
Iowans will soon be able to visit amusement parks, casinos and other outdoor venues under a new wave of reopenings announced by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Reynolds said Tuesday she will end more of the state's coronavirus-related closures starting Monday, June 1. The lifted closures will include amusement parks, casinos, bowling alleys, pool halls, skating rinks and arcades.
Reynolds also announced that speedways and racetracks can have fans in attendance and outdoor performance venues can hold live events starting Monday if social distancing and public health guidelines in place.
Social, community, sport and leisure gatherings of more than 10 people can also resume, provided people maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing and venues remain under 50% capacity.
The updated state guidance is the next step in the state's relaxation of closures that Reynolds put in place in March to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The governor had already lifted some restrictions statewide on retail businesses, restaurants, nonessential surgeries, movie theaters and spiritual and religious gatherings at churches, synagogues and other places of worship.
Just because a business or church can open doesn't mean it will. Reynolds has also encouraged Iowans to stay home as much as possible, and the proclamation continued to encourage vulnerable Iowans, such as those over 65 or those with preexisting medical conditions, to remain home as much as possible.
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Here's a rundown of what's allowed to be open and what's not, starting Thursday:
OPENING THURSDAY, MAY 28:
As restaurant dining rooms have reopened around the state, bars have been limited to offering items on a carryout, drive-through and delivery basis.
Starting Thursday, bars can reopen for indoor and outdoor seating if they follow rules similar to what restaurants are following. Those stipulations include remaining at no more than 50% of their normal capacity, keeping all tables at least 6 feet apart and allowing no more than 10 people at party-size seating. Buffets or other self-serve options are not allowed.
Bars and restaurants can also both have live bands and musical performances starting Thursday.
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OPENING MONDAY, JUNE 1:
Summer school activities
On April 17, Reynolds announced the closure of Iowa schools through the remainder of the academic year. She also waived a requirement that prevents districts from beginning classes prior to Aug. 23, which may allow districts to begin the 2020-21 academic year earlier.
On Wednesday, May 20, Reynolds announced she would allow Iowa schools to reopen for school-sponsored activities starting June 1. That includes an allowance for school-sponsored athletics such as baseball and softball.
Practices for those sports can begin June 1, and games can resume June 15.
Casinos, amusement parks, skating rinks, outdoor playgrounds, bowling alleys, arcades
For the first time since mid-March, entertainment facilities such as amusement parks, skating rinks, outdoor playgrounds, bowling alleys and arcades can re-open on Monday.
The venues must keep their operating capacity to 50% and follow social distancing and public health guidelines.
Live events and gatherings of more than 10
Starting Monday, speedways and racetracks can have fans in attendance for events. Outdoor performance venues can also begin holding live events, with social distancing and public health guidelines in place.
Social, community, sports and leisure gatherings of more than 10 people can also resume Monday, as long as people maintain 6 feet of social distancing and the venues they are in only hold 50% of their capacity.
Reynolds' Tuesday proclamation also allows youth and adult sports such as baseball, softball, running, biking, tennis and swimming to resume practices and games.
ALREADY OPEN STATEWIDE:
Movie theaters, zoos, aquariums, museums
The governor has allowed movie theaters, museums, aquariums, zoos and swimming pools to reopen if they follow certain guidelines.
Movie theaters must limit attendance to 50% of their normal capacity and keep at least 6 feet between each group or person seated in the theater. Self-service of food or beverages will not be allowed. Theaters that hold live performances remain closed under the order.
Museums, aquariums and zoos must take "reasonable measures under the circumstances" to socially distance employees and attendees and increase their hygiene practices, according to the declaration.
Swimming pools may reopen for lap swimming and swimming lessons. All other swimming pools and aquatic venues remain closed. Like the other establishments, pools must take "reasonable measures" to put in place social distancing, increased hygiene and other public health practices, according to the governor's proclamation.
Reynolds had initially closed down all in-person auctions that did not include livestock. But starting May 22, all auctions were allowed to resume, as long as they follow certain guidelines.
Auctions are limited to 25 people in person if held indoors. Outdoor auctions can exceed the limit as long as the auction organizer keeps six feet of distance between each group or person in attendance.
Salons, barbershops, massage therapy and tattoo establishments
On May 15, the governor's mandate that closed down salons and barbershops lifted in all 99 counties. Massage therapy and tattoo establishments also were allowed to reopen.
Salons and barbershops must operate by appointment only and limit the number of customers to 50% of their establishment's legal occupancy, as well as keep all customers at least 6 feet apart from one another.
All salons, barbershops, massage therapy businesses and tattoo establishments must also take "reasonable measures under the circumstances of each establishment" to follow social distancing between employees and patrons and increased hygiene practices, the proclamation said.
Spiritual and religious gatherings of 10 or more are no longer restricted across the state, as of May 1. But churches, synagogues and other venues must use "reasonable measures" to ensure social distancing and increased hygiene are in place.
Wedding and funeral ceremonies are also not prohibited, although wedding receptions of more than 10 people are.
Reynolds has said that she would encourage places of worship to continue offering options for online services, especially for their most vulnerable parishioners.
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Starting May 1, Reynolds announced farmers' markets could begin operating in a limited fashion starting this week.
The markets can only include vendors selling farm products or food. Entertainment such as musical acts and children's activities remains prohibited. Organizers must also eliminate seating areas and keep at least 6 feet of space between all people and booths.
Nonessential surgeries and dental procedures
Reynolds banned nonessential surgical and dental procedures in a March 26 proclamation, partly to preserve personal protective equipment like masks and gloves. Reynolds has since lifted the ban on nonessential surgeries and dental services.
Hospitals and medical facilities providing nonessential surgeries must have an adequate inventory of personal protective equipment without relying on government stockpiles, as well as have a plan to preserve the equipment. All patients must undergo COVID-19 testing prior to the procedure.
To provide nonessential surgeries, medical providers also must not cease treating COVID-19 patients and must reserve a minimum of 30% of their intensive care unit beds and medical or surgical beds for such patients.
Dentists must comply with guidelines adopted by the Iowa Dental Board, which include mandatory screenings for all staff and patients. Iowa Dental Board investigators will enforce the requirements. Dentists also must have enough personal protective equipment without relying on government stockpiles, as well as a plan to conserve that equipment.
Grocery stores, discount stores, pharmacies
While Reynolds' orders initially closed many "nonessential" retail stores, they included an exemption for discount stores, grocery stores and pharmacies that also sell food, medicine and household goods. Stores such as Walmart and Target have also remained open.
Restaurants' dining areas
At the beginning of May, Reynolds allowed restaurant dining rooms to reopen in 77 Iowa counties.
Reynolds extended those guidelines to all 99 counties on May 15. Restaurants can reopen at 50% of their normal capacity. As in the other 77 counties, all tables must be at least 6 feet apart, and buffets or other self-serve options are not allowed.
Starting Thursday, parties of up to 10 people will be allowed in both restaurants and bars, up from the previous limit of six people.
Wedding reception venues
While wedding ceremonies of more than 10 people have been allowed since early May, receptions remained prohibited until Friday, May 22.
Wedding receptions can now occur, provided the venue follows similar requirements to restaurants.
Those requirements include following increased hygiene practices, keeping crowds at 50% of normal capacity, keeping all tables at least 6 feet apart and allowing no more than 10 people to sit at a table. Buffets or other self-serve options are not allowed.
Parks, golf courses and campgrounds
Iowa's state parks have remained open throughout the public health emergency, although some of the facilities have remained closed.
In a declaration that went into effect May 8, Reynolds allowed campgrounds across the state to reopen. The DNR is limiting the number of occupants per campsite at state campgrounds to six, unless an immediate family is larger than that. Visitors are not allowed.
The DNR will additionally open modern restrooms, shower buildings and cabins on Friday at state parks.
Des Moines' municipal golf courses also remain open, although staff members are practicing social distancing guidelines.
Social clubs at golf courses can also reopen but must remain at or under 50% capacity, allow no groups larger than 10 people, ensure at least 6 feet of social distancing between groups and not allow self-service of food.
Drive-in theaters, tanning facilities and medical spas
Drive-in theaters were allowed to reopen prior to movie theaters. To reopen, all cars must remain parked at least 6 feet apart.
Tanning facilities and medical spas may also reopen if they implement “reasonable measures under the circumstances” to ensure social distancing and increase hygiene practices. Medical spas provide aesthetic medical services, such as laser hair removal, acupuncture and Botox injections.
Medical spas are required to follow the same guidelines for the use of personal protective equipment issued to outpatient medical providers.
Fitness centers, health clubs and gyms
Reynolds has gradually phased in the reopening of fitness centers, health clubs and gyms.
The businesses can reopen at 50% capacity. All equipment must be spaced at least 6 feet apart, and group activities must be limited to 10 people or fewer.
Libraries and race tracks
A speedway or race track, including one conducting horse or dog races, may reopen provided it doesn’t permit any spectators to attend events in person.
Libraries can reopen at 50% capacity.
Many "nonessential" retail establishments — including bookstores; clothing and shoe stores; jewelry stores; luggage stores; cosmetic, perfume and beauty supply stores; furniture stores; florists; and home furnishing stores — reopened at 50% capacity on May 1 in 77 of Iowa's counties. Starting May 8, they reopened in all 99 counties.
Stores must also follow social distancing guidelines and increased hygiene practices.
Enclosed malls may reopen at 50% capacity, although play areas and seating areas, including food courts, must remain closed. Restaurants in the food courts can provide carry-out.
Swimming pools, adult day facilities
Swimming facilities remain ordered closed with the exception of those opening for lap swimming and swimming lessons. The closure applies to all swimming pools and spas, wading pools, water slides, wave pools, splash pads and bath houses.
Adult day care facilities and senior citizen centers also remain closed.
Indoor performance venues, indoor playgrounds
While Reynolds will allow outdoor performance venues to reopen starting Monday, indoor theaters and performance venues that hold live performances will continue to be closed.
In a similar fashion, outdoor playgrounds can reopen but indoor playgrounds or children's play centers must remain closed. That stipulation does not apply to playgrounds at private residences or at child care facilities.
Ian Richardson covers the Iowa Statehouse for the Register. Reach him at email@example.com, at 515-284-8254, or on Twitter at @DMRIanR.
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