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People at large gatherings must wear masks, Gov. Kim Reynolds orders

People at large gatherings must wear masks, Gov. Kim Reynolds orders

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Gov. Kim Reynolds implemented new emergency restrictions effective at midnight Tuesday designed to slow a surge in COVID-19 cases that threatens to overwhelm Iowa’s health care system and force more schools to switch temporarily to online learning.

The public health emergency proclamation Reynolds announced Tuesday, which will be in effect for 30 days, places additional restrictions on social, community, leisure and recreational events.

For any such gathering over 10 people or more, there must be 6 feet of social distancing between groups. The groups are limited to eight people, unless members are from the same family.

If an indoor event exceeds 25 people — or an outdoor event exceeds 100 people — all over age 2 must wear a mask.

However, Reynolds did not impose any broader statewide mask mandate.

Groups going to bars or restaurants are similarly limited to eight people (except for family members, which can be more) and all patrons at bars and restaurants have to be seated at tables at all times except for restroom use or other limited reasons.

The governor’s proclamation also restricts attendance at youth athletic events to two spectators per student-athlete, and she is recommending that Iowans postpone family gatherings and vacations as the state heads into the Thanksgiving holiday season as ways to bring down the growing number of COVID-19 cases.

“I’m here to tell Iowans I need your help,” Reynolds told a news conference Tuesday. “We all have to buckle down and take this seriously.”

The governor said she is trying to balance the health and safety of residents with the livelihood of businesses and individuals by implementing the latest round of coronavirus-related restrictions.

She said she and her COVID-19 team will monitor the effectiveness of the new measures and could implement more restrictions if they do not produce the desired outcomes.

“It’s a good place to start,” Reynolds told reporters. “If we have to do more, we will.”

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