Wineries and distilleries in Johnson County allowed to reopen, bars can reopen Monday

Taps at Sanctuary Pub in Iowa City. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a new emergency health proclamation on Friday afternoon, allowing wineries, distilleries and breweries in Johnson County and Story County to reopen to the public and serve alcohol starting at 5 p.m. Friday evening. Bars in the two counties may reopen starting at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 5.

Reynolds ordered bars and other non-retail businesses that primarily sold alcohol in Johnson, Story and four other counties to close on Aug. 27 as new cases of COVID-19 spiked in those counties. That order was lifted in the other four counties—Linn, Polk, Dallas and Black Hawk—on Sept. 16.

The bars and other establishments will be required to enforce social distancing and follow enhanced hygiene requirements related to COVID-19.

The number of new cases of the virus reported in Johnson County has dropped since the closings were first ordered. On Friday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 among Johnson County residents during the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. The county’s 14-day positivity average for COVID-19 tests was 4.8 percent, according to the department. Those numbers are a substantial improvement over Aug. 27, when IDPH reported at 10 a.m. that 334 county residents had tested positive during the preceding 24 hours, and the county’s 14-day positivity rate was 16.5 percent.

Statewide, IDPH reported 1,142 new cases of COVID-19, including 62 in Linn County, during the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. on Friday. The newly reported cases bring the total number of Iowans who have tested positive to 90,754.

The department also reported another 9 deaths from the virus during that same time period, bringing Iowa’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,367.

The state’s current surge in cases is concentrated in rural counties, especially in northwest Iowa. The governor has not ordered any businesses to close in those areas or imposed any new COVID-19 restrictions.

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