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Video: Gov. Reynolds eases restrictions on restaurants, some businesses and churches beginning Friday

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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced today that she will begin easing restrictions on some businesses and on religious gatherings in 77 Iowa counties — including Pottawattamie County and most of southwest Iowa — beginning Friday.

Effective Friday, restaurants, fitness centers and retail stores can begin to operate at 50% of normal operating capacity, Reynolds said.

Enclosed malls may reopen and operate at 50% normal capacity, but play areas, common-seating areas including food court dining, must remain closed. Restaurants in food courts may operate in a carry-out basis.

Social, community, recreational, leisure and sporting events will continue to be limited to 10 people. But Reynolds said she is lifting the limits on all spiritual and religious gatherings. All other existing closures in the state will be extended through May 15.

Businesses and churches approved for re-opening must also adhere to social distancing, hygiene, public health measures and guidelines from the Iowa Department of Public Health, Reynolds said.

Reynolds' order states:

Restaurants: A restaurant may reopen to serve food and beverages on its premises, but only to the extent that it complies with the following requirements:

  • The restaurant must limit the number of customers present at indoor or outdoor spaces to 50% of its normal operating capacity to ensure adequate spacing of groups.
  • The restaurant must ensure that no group of customers seated together in the restaurant is larger than six people.
  • The restaurant must ensure at least six feet of physical distance between each group or individual dining alone.
  • The restaurant must not have any self-service of food or beverages, including buffets or salad bars.
  • The restaurant shall also implement reasonable measures under the circumstances of each restaurant to ensure social distancing of employees and customers, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 consistent with guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Fitness centers: A fitness center, health club, health spa, or gym may reopen, but only to the extent that it complies with the following requirements:

  • The establishment must limit the number of customers present to 50% of its maximum legal occupancy capacity.
  • The establishment must ensure that all equipment, such as treadmills, bikes, weight machines, benches, and power racks, are spaced at least six feet apart or take other appropriate measures to ensure that more closely spaced equipment is not used.
  • Any group activities or classes must be limited to 10 or fewer people and all people participating must maintain a distance of six feet apart at all times.
  • The establishment shall also implement reasonable measures under the circumstances of each establishment to ensure social distancing of employees and customers, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 consistent with guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Malls: An enclosed mall may reopen, but only to the extent that it complies with the following requirements:

  • The mall must limit the number of customers present to 50% of its maximum legal occupancy capacity.
  • All common seating areas, such as food courts, shall remain closed. Restaurants in food courts may operate on a carry-out basis.
  • Any play area or playground must remain closed.
  • The mall shall also implement reasonable measures under the circumstances of each mall to ensure social distancing of employees and customers, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 consistent with guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Libraries: A library may reopen provided that it limits the number of patrons present to 50% of its maximum legal occupancy capacity and implements reasonable measures under the circumstances of each library to ensure social distancing of employees and patrons, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 consistent with guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Race tracks: A speedway or race track, other than a track conducting horse or dog races, may reopen its operations provided that it does not permit any spectators to attend its events in person.

Reynolds extended other business closures to 11:59 p.m. May 15. This includes: bars, theaters, casinos and gaming facilities, social and fraternal clubs, senior citizen and adult daycare facilities, amusement centers (bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, amusement parks), museums, aquariums and zoos, skating rinks and skate parks, playgrounds, campgrounds, swimming pools, salons and barber shops, medical spas, tattoo establishments, tanning facilities, massage therapy establishments, and door-to-door sales.

The previous, more aggressive restrictions remain in place for 22 counties in Iowa, including: Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Dallas, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fayette, Henry, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Linn, Louisa, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Tama, Washington and Woodbury.

Also today, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 349 new positive cases for a statewide total of 5,868 positive cases. There have been an additional 1,668 negative tests for a total of 32,282 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. 

There were also nine new deaths reported. Reynolds said the deaths were older and elderly adults. 

• Black Hawk County, 2 older adults (61-80 years)

• Bremer County, 1 elderly adult (81 and older)

• Dubuque County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)

• Polk County, 3 elderly adults (81 and older)

• Poweshiek County, 1 elderly adult (81 and older)

• Washington County, 1 elderly adult (81 and older)

Eight had pre-existing health conditions and one is under review for pre-existing conditions. To date, 127 Iowans have died from COVID-19.

Pottawattamie County Public Health reported two new COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the county's total number of cases to 31. Seventeen individuals have recovered, 13 are self-isolating at home, none are hospitalized, and there has been one death.

Both new cases both reside in Council Bluffs and include one male and one female. One is a child between 0-17 years old, and the other individual is an adult between 18 and 40 years old. Neither person has pre-existing conditions. One had contact with an existing COVID-19 case, and one is a result of community spread. These individuals were tested between April 23 and April 24. Both are self-isolating at home.

Pottawattamie County Public Health continues to conduct contact tracing investigations for each COVID-19 case. A part of contact tracing is assessing risk to the general public. If there is not a risk to the general public, Public Health will communicate directly with the specific contacts identified in the investigation. If and when a risk to the general public is identified, Public Health will publicly identify the location and communicate any actions the public should take. Because we have community spread of COVID-19, individuals should be taking precautions to protect themselves. Stay home as much as possible, limit travel and shopping. If you must leave home, practice social distancing, and stay at least six feet away from others. Implement excellent hygiene and disinfectant practices. Wash hands and disinfect frequently touched surfaces multiple times per day. And if you are sick, self-isolate at home.

— This story is developing

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