Amid thunderstorms and tornado warnings, the Ames City Council discussed possible city responses to the COVID-19 outbreak Tuesday night.
It was established that the city of Ames does not have a right to mandate face covering.
“I understand the people that want to require the face coverings but the reality is the law in Iowa says the city cannot,” said city attorney Mark Lambert.
The Council moved that the mayor write a request to the governor that would grant the city the right to issue mandates if they choose.
Lambert said this would allow the city to make decisions for things like face covering mandates, but it is still unsure if the governor will allow cities and counties to do so.
“I think it is important, not only for home rule that cities be granted this type of authority, but more so in the face of a public health pandemic that we are provided with the opportunity to not only protect the health of our residents but also protect the health of our businesses,” said At-large Rep. Amber Corrieri.
The Council also discussed the concern of bars violating the governor’s social distancing proclamation. To remain open under the proclamation, the establishment must take measures such as ensuring every patron has a seat and encouraging social distancing, according to Lambert.
A letter will be sent to all licensed beer and alcohol establishments in Ames informing them of the proclamation as well as consequences that would take place if it is not followed. Implications could include citing misdemeanors to bar managers, suspension of permits, imposing civil penalties or shutting down the establishment.
Lambert said he hopes it won’t have to come to any of these implications, but they are options the city can use if needed. The letter will be hand delivered by a police officer and be followed by spot checks.
“I think everyone needs to be aware that even if you set aside the public health implications, the idea that our economy is ever going to get back to any kind of normalcy is not going to happen unless we take this more seriously,” Corrieri said.