CORONAVIRUS

Gov. Reynolds orders another week of bar closures in Johnson, Story counties

Bar staff check IDs and ensures that customers are wearing masks Aug. 22 outside of DC's in Iowa City. (Nick Rohlman/fre
Bar staff check IDs and ensures that customers are wearing masks Aug. 22 outside of DC’s in Iowa City. (Nick Rohlman/freelance for The Gazette)

Bars in Johnson and Story counties will have been closed for more than five weeks if they are allowed to reopen when an extended emergency health proclamation issued Friday by Gov. Kim Reynolds expires next week.

The latest order, a response to the coronavirus pandemic, is set to go until 11:59 p.m. Oct. 4.

Reynolds began a series of bar closure orders Aug. 27, initially affecting bars in six counties where new COVID-19 cases were surging.

But while she rescinded her order early for bars in four counties — Black Hawk, Dallas, Linn and Polk — the governor has continued to make bars in the communities around the University of Iowa and Iowa State University stay closed.

The order includes bars, taverns, wineries, breweries, distilleries, nightclubs, country clubs or other social or fraternal clubs, including wedding reception venues. Impacted businesses must be closed to the public, but may sell alcoholic beverages to-go.

In the two counties, restaurants — defined as making more than half of on-site consumption sales from food rather than alcohol — may remain open but must stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m.

The extension announced Friday came on a day when Iowa had more than 1,000 new cases of the virus in a 24-hour period for the second day in a row.

However, new cases in Johnson County have begun leveling off, with a positivity rate of 5.75 percent Friday — the lowest since tracking started, according to a Gazette data analysis. The county’s seven-day average of adding new cases was 21.

Story County, meanwhile, had a positivity rate of 26.36 percent in the 24-hour period.

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The order also extends additional public health measures for bars and restaurants throughout the state, including ensuring 6 feet of distance between each group or individual dining or drinking; ensuring all patrons have a seat at a table or bar and consume alcohol or food while seated; and limit congregating together closer than 6 feet.

Since Wednesday, Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverages Division has announced that 11 businesses in the state were cited for violating the emergency order, including Bo-James in Iowa City. Establishments face a penalty for the violations but have the right to appeal.

Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com

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