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Iowa governor announces limited indoor mask requirement, restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings



With the rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new Public Health Disaster proclamation that imposes a number of additional public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

According to the new proclamation, starting Tuesday all Iowans two or older must wear a mask or other face-covering when inside an indoor public space and when social distancing is not possible for 15 minutes or longer. This requirement also extends to visitors and employees inside government buildings.

Any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a mask or face-covering is exempt from this requirement. Other exemptions to wearing a mask include any person consuming food or drink at a restaurant, or any person participating in a service at a spiritual or religious gathering.

The proclamation also limits indoor social, community, business and leisure gatherings or events to 15 people. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 30. This includes wedding and funeral receptions, family gatherings and conventions. But the proclamation does not restrict gatherings that occur in the workplace as part of normal daily business or government operations.

With the exception of high school, collegiate or professional sports, all youth and adult sports activities of any size are suspended. This includes group swimming lessons, swim teams, dancing, gymnastics and organized basketball games. This does not prohibit individual sporting and recreational activities.

And while high school sports and extracurricular activities are not prohibited, spectators at games or events are limited to two per student and are required to wear a mask.

Also exempt from the gathering restrictions are spiritual and religious gatherings. But the proclamation says a church, synagogue or other host of a spiritual or religious gathering shall implement reasonable measures to ensure social distancing, increased hygiene practices and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

For restaurants and bars, the proclamation says they can stay open to serve food and beverages on their premises but must follow several public health measures.

Those measures state the establishment must close to the general public for in-person dining at 10 p.m. and may not reopen until 6 a.m. the following day. Establishments may continue to offer carry-out, delivery or drive-thru after 10 p.m.

Restaurants and bars must also ensure there is at least six feet of physical distance between each group or individual in the dining area. Also acceptable is having barriers between booths that fully separate seated customers. Groups must also be limited to eight people, but this is not required if all members of that group are from the same household.

While at a restaurant, customers will be required to wear masks or face-coverings when not seated at their table. Restaurants employees are required to wear a mask or face-covering when interacting with customers.

All these mitigation efforts are expected to stay in effect until Dec. 10.

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