Over the weekend, Governor Kim Reynolds removed restrictions that were in place since last November, including the mask mandate.
On November 10th, Reynolds required all individuals over two years old to wear a face covering while indoors. The order included mask requirements at high school sporting events and certain businesses such as barbershops and salons. Other gatherings such as weddings and funerals were required to implement social distancing.
As of Sunday, February 7th, Iowans will not be required to wear masks while inside public buildings. Additionally, the governor’s latest health proclamation removes limits for both indoor and outdoor gatherings.
In her public health proclamation, Governor Reynolds asked each business to use measures it feels are appropriate.
“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.”
Reynolds also asked Iowans to limit their in-person interactions with vulnerable members of their community and to exercise particular care and caution when engaging in any possible interactions.
The governor’s proclamation invited both positive and negative reactions. Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association commended Reynolds’ order.
“Quite frankly, it allows us to go back to doing business at a really critical time,” Dunker said.
Dissenters included President Biden’s chief of staff as well as Lina Tucker Reinders, executive director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea, to put it bluntly,” she said, according to the des Moines Register. “We’re not out of the pandemic yet.”
In November, Iowa reached its peak when 1,527 Iowans were hospitalized with Covid. According to state data, that number has dropped by nearly 80 percent. Reynolds recently described Iowa’s Covid situation as “stable.”
“Our goal continues to be keeping virus activity at a level we can manage over the course of our daily lives and I think we’re demonstrating that we can do that,” Reynolds said.