Just in time for the Super Bowl, Iowans can now go maskless.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on Friday lifted COVID-19 restrictions she put in place before Thanksgiving. At 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Iowans were no longer required to wear masks while inside public buildings. In addition, there will be no limits on either indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Reynolds had required Iowans two years of age and older to wear masks if they were indoors and spent 15 minutes or more within six feet of a person not from their households.
But officials said Iowans should continue other mitigation methods.
“I strongly encourage that all businesses or other employers remaining open with in-person operations take reasonable measures under the circumstances of each establishment to ensure the health of employees, patrons and members of the public, including social distancing practices, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19,” the proclamation said, according to KCCI-TV in Des Moines.
The proclamation also removed social distancing requirements for businesses like restaurants and gyms.
“It allows us to go back to doing business at a really critical time,” Iowa Restaurant Association chief Jessica Dunker told the Des Moines Register on Saturday. “We are … one day before the Super Bowl, which opens up a lot of businesses for crowds to come in and safely watch the big game.”
But Lina Tucker Reinders, executive director of the Iowa Public Health Association, said she thinks the restrictions are being lifted too early.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea, to put it bluntly,” she said, according to the Register. “We’re not out of the pandemic yet.”
But Lina Tucker Reinders, executive director of the Iowa Public Health Association, told the paper that Reynolds’ move is premature.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea, to put it bluntly,” she said. “We’re not out of the pandemic yet.”
Reinders said although COVID-19 cases have dropped, they could rise again, and noted new strains of the virus are emerging, which means people need to continue to take precautions. “We have so many people wanting a vaccine, which is fantastic,” she said. “This isn’t the time to let our guards down. This is the time to just, head-down, trudge on as we have been to make sure we get everybody through it.”
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, the only Democratic member of Iowa’s congressional delegation, said the governor’s new order is “short-sighted, ill-conceived, and dangerous.”
“In recent weeks, I’ve spoken to the governor and our federal health partners about increasing Iowa’s vaccine allocations to bring us closer to ending this crisis,” Axne said in a statement. “But this new proclamation undermines all of those efforts — disregarding the lagging vaccinations of our seniors and other vulnerable populations and skipping ahead to a return to normalcy that is unwarranted.”
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