Gov. Reynolds declares immediate closure of restaurants, fitness centers, theaters, casinos and more

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ disaster proclamation, March 17, 2020.

At her late Monday afternoon press conference, Gov. Kim Reynolds was still insisting it was too soon for her to take major actions to stem the spead of COVID-19 in Iowa, despite recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control that public gatherings should be limited to 10 people, and states with community spread of the disease — such as Iowa — close restaurants and bars.

That must have changed following the press conference, because the governor signed a proclamation declaring a “State of Public Health Disaster Emergency” that was published shortly after 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

“This state of disaster emergency shall be effective immediately on March 16, 2020, shall continue for thirty (30) days, and shall expire on April 16, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.,” according to the text of proclamation.

Provisions of the emergency declaration bring Iowa into line with the CDC recommendations.

The declaration contains the following restrictions, which take effect at noon on Tuesday and last through 11:59 p.m.

A. Restaurants and Bars: All Restaurants and Bars are hereby closed to the general public except that to the extent permitted by applicable law, and in accordance with any recommendations of the Iowa Department of Public Health, food and beverages may be sold if such food or beverages are promptly taken from the premises, such as on a carry-out or drive-through basis, or if the food or beverage is delivered to customers off the premises.

B. Fitness Center: All fitness centers, health clubs, health spas, gyms, aquatic centers are hereby closed.

C. Theaters: All theaters or other performance venues at which live performances or or motion pictures are shown are hereby closed.

D. Casinos and Gaming Facilities: All casinos and other facilities conducting pari-mutuel wagering or gaming operations are hereby closed.

E. Mass Gathering: Social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people are hereby prohibited at all locations and venues, including but not limited to parades, festivals, conventions, and fundraisers. Planned large gatherings and events must be canceled or postponed until after termination of this disaster.

F. Senior Citizen Centers and Adult Daycare Facilities: All facilities that conduct adult day services or other senior citizen centers are hereby closed.

The disaster declaration also temporarily waives the need to renew drivers licenses, as well as “vehicle registration, registration cards, and registration plates.”

Other provisions of the declaration won’t affect the general public, and are intended to give state agencies greater flexibility in responding to the pandemic.

“These are unprecedented times and the state of Iowa will do whatever is necessary to address this public health disaster. I have authorized all available state resources, supplies, equipment and materials to combat the spread of COVID-19,” the governor said in a written statement accompanying the declaration.

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