In an evening live address on Monday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered a statewide mask requirement effective at 12:01 a.m. on November 17 and lasting until 11:59 a.m. on December 10, meant to target indoor spaces.
“Tonight, I am announcing additional mitigation measures that will target activities and environment, where they have the potential to make a significant impact in a relatively short amount of time,” Reynolds said. “That doesn’t mean these changes will be easy or popular, but they are necessary if we want to keep our businesses open, our kids in school and our health care system stable.”
The announcement comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased across the state dramatically since November 1. All people two years or older are required to wear a mask or face covering when in an indoor setting open to the public where they are next to someone for 15 minutes or longer. This requirement does not apply to any person with a medical condition/disability that prevents wearing a mask, anyone working in a workspace where they can distance by six feet, eating or drinking in a restaurant, anyone participating in a service at a religious gathering and public safety officers “actively engaging” in their duties where a mask would interfere with their ability.
“No one wants to do this,” Reynolds said. “I don’t want to do this, especially as we are coming into a holiday season that is normally filled with joy. It’s about keeping you and our families safe. Think of all your fellow Iowans. Think of the health care heroes who have been taking care of us since the beginning of this pandemic.”
All youth, recreational and adult athletic activities will be suspended with the exception of high school athletics. Extra curricular activities at schools may continue with restrictions including two spectators per student and required to wear a mask. Restaurants and bars must close at 10:00 p.m. and cannot host private gatherings of 15 people. Mask use is required when not sitting at a table. Outdoors events are limited to 30 people and indoor events 15 people. Elective medical procedures will be reduced statewide by 50 percent.
“I know it’s been a long eight months, but there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Reynolds said. “I’m hopeful that a vaccine will be here soon. But until then, it’s important to step up and slow the spread to make sure Iowans stay safe and our hospitals can treat everyone who needs care. This isn’t about mandate, or government. If Iowans don’t buy into this, Iowa will lose. Now is the time to come together for the great good. That’s who we are as Iowans and I know without a doubt that we will get through this together.”
Reynolds noted that additional restrictions may be announced at a later date based off data collected throughout the state. Check back with Vinton Newspapers for updates as they are made available.