Bars in four of the six counties banned from operating will now be reopened after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation Tuesday. Black Hawk, Dallas, Linn and Polk county bars, taverns, wineries, breweries, distilleries and nightclubs will all be allowed to open Wednesday at 5 p.m., according to her proclamation.
Restaurant restrictions and bar closures in Story and Johnson counties will remain — the two counties home to Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. Reynolds signed the proclamation closing the bars Aug. 27 following the start of the academic year.
Bars in Johnson and Story counties will remain closed until Sept. 20, but can continue to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off premises no later than 10 p.m. Currently, Story County has over 3,000 positive COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths.
Establishments must ensure social distancing by at least six physical feet between each group or individuals dining. The restaurants must implement reasonable measures to reduce risk of transmission and remain consistent with the guidance from the Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals and the Iowa Department of Public Health, the proclamation read.
John Paschen, chair of the Story County Board of Health, said he is pleased to see Story and Johnson County bars have remained closed but is wary of loosened restrictions.
“This is not the time to do it,” Paschen said. “This is exactly what the problem has been in this country. We get a rate down a little bit and we assume it’s over and then bang it comes back. Shut the bars, stop having these social outings and to get this under control and keep this under control, just because we have had a decrease for a week does not mean we are done with it. As soon as you let your guard down it comes back.”