CEDAR RAPIDS — Mayor Brad Hart says the city’s mask mandate remains in effect despite Gov. Kim Reynolds’ move on Friday to lift restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Hart told The Gazette that city, Linn County and hospital officials will continue to communicate to the public that they believe it still is important to keep COVID-19 mitigation measures in place despite the governor’s decision to end those restrictions and its partial mask mandate starting Sunday, the day of the Super Bowl.
Under Reynolds’ updated public health emergency proclamation released on Friday:
• Iowans no longer will be required to wear face coverings in public when around other people for at least 15 minutes.
• Businesses will not be required to limit the number of customers or keep them socially distanced.
• There will be no limits on the size of public gatherings.
Hart signed an emergency proclamation in September requiring masks or face coverings be worn in public, weeks before novel coronavirus cases spiked in Iowa and surpassed 5,000 in a single day at the peak of the November surge.
“The plan is not to give people tickets or arrest people,” Hart said, “but it’s just really important and it should give businesses a little bit more of a firm stance to say, ‘We have a city mandate. You have to wear a mask when you come in here.’”
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Iowa City and Des Moines are among other cities in the state that plan to continue requiring masks be worn in public. Mayors of several Iowa cities over the summer implemented mask mandates to push back on state officials’ stances that local governments lack legal authority to issue such mandates.
“I’m not particularly happy that the changes were made on a Friday afternoon, so that makes it obviously difficult,” Hart said.
“I think a lot of our businesses are going to continue to be responsible and they know that their patrons have adjusted to masks and distancing and all those, so I think there are a lot of businesses that would — even if we didn’t have a local mask mandate — they would continue to operate under the guidelines that had been in place.”
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