After months of Governor Reynolds refusing to declare a mask mandate in the state amidst record-breaking COVID-19 numbers, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a new proclamation, continuing the state’s public emergency declaration. The declaration, made on Nov. 16, remains in effect until Thursday, Dec. 10.
The proclamation gives new guidelines concerning masks, businesses, sports and capacity limits. These guidelines, though, come with numerous exceptions.
The state of Iowa now requires masks be worn in indoor public spaces if people are unable to social distance and will be in the building for 15 minutes or more.
For sophomore history major Will Minnick, the new guidelines create more unity across the state.
“It’s a way to care about our neighbors during the pandemic,” he said. “It also removes any awkward feelings of whether I should wear my mask or not.”
Capacities for indoor social, business and leisure gatherings are restricted to 15 people, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 30, including weddings and funerals.
However, according to the proclamation, it does not restrict gatherings that occur in the workplace as part of normal daily business or government operations.
Sporting events were also affected due to these new guidelines. All organized youth and adult sports are suspended. High school, collegiate and professional sports went unaffected besides a new limit to two spectators per high school athlete at each event.
For sophomore social work major Meridith Hochstetler, she thinks of her 12-year-old sister Sarah back home.
“The mask mandate is a good thing,” she said. “Hopefully it will allow for us to slow the spread of the virus so that my sister can participate in her youth events again, and we can all go back to a normal life.”
For Northwestern College, this includes suspended intramurals and new guidelines at the Rowenhorst Student Center. Only one individual or household is allowed per basketball hoop or court, and there is a limit of 20 people on both the walking track and fitness area. Group fitness activities have been suspended as well.
Sophomore accounting major Micah VanKalsbeek had just joined her first intramural sport upon learning the season was suspended.
“Nothing compares to the disappointment of just learning how to underhand serve only to find out that volleyball was cancelled,” VanKalsbeek said.
Restaurants and bars also took a hard hit with this new proclamation. Restaurants must also require patrons to wear a mask at all times unless eating or drinking, and groups are limited to eight people unless they area part of the same household. Facilities must close at 10 p.m. and bar seating is closed. These rules also apply to bowling alleys, pool and bingo halls, arcades and children play centers.
These mitigation efforts come into play at the same time the pandemic has been striking America the hardest, with Iowa reporting over 2,000 new cases on Tuesday, Dec. 1. European countries such as Germany, France, Greece, Italy and Spain have also been seeing a rise in cases.
These spikes are occurring just after Thanksgiving, after extended families have gathered together despite pleas from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to do otherwise.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Dec. 1, Governor Reynolds pleaded with Congress to pass a COVID-19 relief package. She acknowledged that while restaurants and businesses are not closed, the mitigations are taking a toll with limited hours and restricted operations.
Iowa’s restrictions are set to expire next week but could possibly be extended.