Governor Kim Reynolds will allow many businesses in 77 Iowa counties to reopen May 1 and church services may resume in the entire state this weekend.
“The reality is that we can’t stop the virus, that it will remain in our communities until a vaccine is available,” Reynolds said late this morning during her daily news conference. “Instead we must learn to live with Covid virus activity without letting it govern our lives.”
The restaurants, fitness centers and retail businesses in 77 Iowa counties that Reynolds ordered to close last month may reopen Friday, but at 50 percent of normal operating capacity.
“Additionally, social, community, recreational and leisure and sporting events will continue to be limited to 10 people,” Reynolds said, “but recognizing the significant constitutional liberties involved, I am lifting the limits on spiritual and religious gatherings.”
Reynolds said churches should follow CDC guidelines and practice social distancing. The governor said her decision to allow business activity to resume in 77 of Iowa’s 99 counties is based on the reported virus activity in those counties over the past two weeks.
“We’re also taking into account hospitalization rates,” Reynolds said. “…We’re also taking a look at recovered.”
The governor indicated business closures in the other 22 counties will be lifted if there are downward trends in Covid-19 cases in those areas of the state.
“I know that there are many more Iowans who are eager to know when their communities will begin to reopen,” Reynolds said. “And I want to reassure you we will continue to monitor all areas of the state on a daily basis for trends in virus activity.”
Public libraries and enclosed shopping malls in those 77 counties may reopen, but food courts in any of those malls must remain carry-out only. Barbershops and hair salons remain closed statewide. Business closures in 22 counties have been extended to May 15th.
Leaders announced today the 2020 Iowa legislative session will remain suspended through May 15th.
(This story was updated at 1:31 p.m. with additional information)