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Gov. Reynolds issues indoor mask restrictions for Iowa, additional mitigation efforts

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IOWA (KWWL) -- Governor Reynolds has announced mask restrictions and other significant COVID-19 mitigation efforts for Iowa during a primetime address to the state on Monday.

The proclamation from the governor states:

"I hereby order that effective at 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 17 and until Dec. 10, all people two or older must wear a mask or other face covering when inside an indoor space that is open to the public and within six feet of individuals who are not members of their household for 15 minutes or longer."

Face masks will also be required in executive branch buildings.

Along with face coverings being required indoors, all indoor gatherings must be limited to 15 people and all outdoor gatherings must be limited to 30 people. This includes non-religious wedding and funeral events.

There are exceptions to this listed in the proclamation. It does not apply to restrict gatherings that occur during the ordinary course of business or government. Spiritual and religious gatherings are not prohibited, but all churches, synagogues, or religious hosts will implement 'reasonable' measures.

Except for high school, collegiate, professional or recreational sporting events, all organized youth sports activities will be suspended.

All restaurants and bars are now required to close at 10 p.m. All establishments must also ensure at least six feet of distancing between each group and seating is required. Groups will still be limited to eight unless all members are part of the same household.

Hospitals must limit nonessential surgeries so that they use at least 50 percent less beds than were used for nonessential procedures during September.

A statewide mandate has been something Reynolds has pushed back on since the beginning of the pandemic in March. Tonight, she said many who have had mild cases of the virus have created a mindset where Iowans have become complacent.

In early September, Reynolds defended her decision to not require masks, saying she trusts Iowans to do the right thing. She has pushed Iowans to wear a mask if social distancing is not possible, but had not issued any proclamations requiring them in public spaces.

Pressure has been mounting from business owners, faith leaders and state representatives for Reynolds to implement stricter public health measures including a mask mandate. On Monday, faith leaders asked for a statewide mask mandate because they hope this latest surge of COVID-19 would change the governor's mind. Last week, the State Board of Health also voted to recommend a statewide mask mandate to the governor.

Almost all Iowa counties are in the red zone with positivity rates above 15 percent and high levels of community transmission.

For months now, the White House coronavirus task force has advised Iowa to require mask-wearing and implement stricter gathering limitations. Reynolds' most recent proclamation has required mask-wearing at indoor groups larger than 25 and outdoor groups larger than 100.

While Reynolds had not issued a mandate until now, many cities, counties, businesses and school districts across Iowa have issued their own requirements to varying levels of enforcement.

Read the full proclamation here.


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Andrew Pearce

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