Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has lifted coronavirus restrictions and will no longer require her residents to wear masks inside restaurants, bars, and other public buildings.
In a proclamation that went into effect on midnight Sunday, the Republican governor encouraged those who decide to venture out to still exercise caution and to “take reasonable measures” to protect their own health.
“I strongly encourage that all businesses or other employers remaining open with in-person operations take reasonable measures under the circumstances of each establishment to ensure the health of employees, patrons and members of the public, including social distancing practices, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19,” the order read.
THIS JUST IN👇👇👇
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds' new Emergency Proclamation starting Sunday:
🚨ENDS MASK MANDATE
🚨NO LIMITS ON PUBLIC GATHERINGS
🚨RESTAURANTS CAN PACK BARS – NO LIMITShttps://t.co/MyTjusnJQI
— Beth Malicki (@BethMalicki) February 5, 2021
As Fox News reports, the order was met with mixed reactions with conservatives and business owners praising the return to normalcy while liberals and some health experts saying they believed the decision was made too soon.
Iowa Restaurant Association President and CEO Jessica Dunker said the proclamation will go a long way in helping businesses recover lost profits — and at a crucial time.
“Quite frankly, it allows us to go back to doing business at a really critical time,” she said via the report. “We are … one day before the Super Bowl, which opens up a lot of businesses for crowds to come in and safely watch the big game.”
Contrasting that opinion, Iowa Public Health Association Executive Director Lina Tucker Reinders reminded that the pandemic is still ongoing.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea, to put it bluntly,” she said. “We’re not out of the pandemic yet.”
Democratic Congresswoman Cindy Axne, the lone Democratic Iowaian representative, similarly described the decision as “short-sighted, ill-conceived, and dangerous.”
Reynolds’ proclamation comes as the state is continuing to distribute vaccines to frontline workers and others who need it — a task the governor admits her state needs to do a better job with.
“We’re averaging about 60% in getting the vaccines administered and that’s not where we need to be,” Reynolds said. “We want to do better. We know we can do better.”