DES MOINES — Starting Friday, Iowans across the state will have more latitude to go to the dentist and stay overnight at campgrounds, and in the hardest hit parts of the state visit malls and retail stores.
But, notably, the revised order issued Wednesday evening by Gov. Kim Reynolds does not mention easing restrictions on restaurants in a 22-county region that includes Cedar Rapids and Iowa City — unlike an order that did relax restaurant restrictions starting May 1 in 77 other counties not hit as hard by the coronavirus.
The order Reynolds issued Wednesday relaxes some COVID-19 mitigation strategies statewide and others regionally.
Among her statewide declarations, Reynolds said dentists and their staffs may resume providing services, and public and private campgrounds, drive-in movie theaters, tanning facilities and medical spas all may reopen with caveats.
The updated order relaxes mitigation strategies in 22 counties that remain under more strict orders because the virus is more widespread there. In those 22 counties, beginning Friday, enclosed malls and retail stores may reopen provided they operate at no more than half capacity and observe social distancing, and fitness centers may reopen for appointments only.
The 22 counties affected are Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Dallas, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fayette, Henry, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Linn, Louisa, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Tama, Washington and Woodbury.
Reynolds has said an increase in data available to the state public health department, driven by an increase in the number of tests being conducted daily across the state, gives her administration confidence to take steps such as these to reopen Iowa businesses.
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The state this week experienced new single-day record highs for virus-related deaths (19 reported Tuesday) and hospitalizations (414 reported Wednesday).
The three health care regions in northeast, southeast and south central Iowa each remain rated 9 on a state matrix where 12 is the worst.
“We can do it in a responsible and safe manner based on the data,” Reynolds had said Tuesday at her daily briefing on the state’s pandemic response efforts. “Together we’re going to move through this and we’re going to start to reopen our economy. We’re going to get Iowans back to work. We’re going to get to the other side of this.”
All reopening business must still practice social distancing among staff and customers, according to the governor’s orders. For example, dentists must have adequate supplies of protective equipment and comply with virus-related policies recently adopted by the state dental board; campgrounds must ensure social distancing and increased hygiene practices; and cars at drive-in theaters must park 6 feet apart.
The newly modified order also clarifies that in the 77 counties where Reynolds recently relaxed other mitigation strategies, social and fraternal clubs, like the American Legion or VFW, must remain closed unless they serve food, and golf clubhouses may be open to facilitate golfers and serve food.
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