As COVID-19 cases climb in Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds is requiring mask wearing at indoor gatherings of 25 or more people and imposing new restrictions on the crowd size at high school basketball games, wrestling matches and other youth sporting events.
“This is the time when personal responsibility also means personal sacrifice,” Reynolds said during a news conference late this morning.
Masks are now required at any outdoor gathering of 100 more as well. Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor.
“The things that seem the least threatening are some of the highest risk activities right now, like wedding receptions, youth sports, even having some neighbors over to watch a football game,” Reynolds said. “…Now is the time for every Iowan to carefully consider what more that you can do to prevent being exposed to the virus and further spreading it.”
Reynolds issued a new public health emergency that will last through December 3. Reynolds said she is “ordering” businesses to evaluate whether more employees can work from home and she’s now requiring all customers and employees at hair salons and barber shops to wear a mask. The governor said Iowans should “minimize their time away from home” as much as they can.
“I’m asking you to think about how you can make a difference and it may mean making some really hard decisions,” Reynolds said. “Please consider avoiding events where public health measures may not be followed.”
Democrats dismissed the governor’s new directives as “too little, too late,” to stem the rising tide of Covid cases and hospitalizations in the state.
“Governor Reynolds’ latest steps to fight Covid are like buying a smoke detector after your house is blazing out of control,” Senate Democratic Leader Janet Petersen said in a written statement.
The governor’s new mask mandates do not extend to churches or to schools, although the governor told reporters many school districts are already requiring mask wearing inside buildings and on buses. Reynolds is urging Iowans to postpone events like birthday parties and family gatherings.
“It’s up to all of us to determine if our actions will protect someone,” Reynolds said, “or put them at risk.”
The governor’s new limitation of two spectators per athlete at a youth sporting event does not apply to this weekend’s high school football championships in Cedar Falls. Masks are required for the crowd in the UNI-Dome.