116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Defying state law and an Iowa Board of Regents directive, Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague issued an emergency order Thursday evening requiring masks in all classrooms and other gathering spots including stores, restaurants and churches in the city.
His order comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rates Johnson County as having a high rate of coronavirus transmission and as thousands of college students stream into the community this week.
Both the Iowa City Community School District and the University of Iowa resume classes Monday for the fall semester. In his order requiring face masks for everyone in gathering spots in Iowa City — with some exceptions — Teague includes “public school buildings” and “University of Iowa academic buildings and business offices.”
“We are doing these extraordinary measures to ensure that we all get out of this COVID pandemic together,” Teague said in a social media video, surrounded by members of the Iowa City Council. He said council members and city staff were in “full solidarity” in supporting the proclamation.
His local order contradicts a state measure adopted in May and quickly signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds that prohibits local school boards from enacting mask mandates in schools.
“It’s against the law and it’s not enforceable,” Pat Garrett, spokesman for Reynolds, said Thursday night about Teague’s order. “COVID-19 has been around for over a year; Iowans know how to protect themselves and their families.”
The mayor’s order also flouts a Board of Regents policy announced in May that precludes mask requirements in the public university classrooms. So far, none of Iowa’s public universities have mandated masks or vaccines despite faculty appeals. But all three have encouraged vaccination and masking.
In his order, which expires Sept. 30, Teague said the mask mandate applies inside grocery and retail stores, restaurants and bars, movie theaters and houses of worship, among other locations in the city. The order also requires masks be worn outdoors in the city when 6 feet of distancing is not possible.
The order says kids under 2, people with certain medical conditions and a few others are exempt. The order does not specify a penalty for a violation.