With the coronavirus spreading across Iowa like wildfire and with nothing left to gain politically by withholding a statewide mask mandate, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds revised her State Public Health Emergency Declaration Tuesday to require the wearing of masks by all people participating in indoor gatherings of more than 25 and outdoor gatherings exceeding 100.
Only children up to the age of 2 will not have to wear masks, the governor said.
With her decisive proclamation, Reynolds makes Iowa the 36th U.S. state to impose a mask mandate. Most mandates were ordered by July.
Reynolds’ steady refusal to require Iowans to wear masks in public came to a head in August, when several cities and one county adopted their own local ordinances in defiance of the governor’s authority.
“I just don’t believe that a one-size-fits-all from a government mandate is the right direction,” she said in an Aug. 6 press conference. “We don’t believe during a public health emergency that the local governments have the authority to supersede what has been put in place at the statewide level by the governor.”
Tuesday’s revised health emergency declaration, which takes effect at midnight Tuesday and expires Dec. 10 at midnight, states that any social, community, recreational, leisure or sporting gathering with more than 25 people indoors or 100 people outdoors will be prohibited unless all people over the age of 2 wear masks.
Groups numbering no more than eight people may attend these events, with the exception of households of more than eight members. Events of more than 10 people must ensure 6 feet of social distancing between groups and must take other precautions.
The new rules for youth and high school sporting events require that if more than 25 people are at an indoor event, all spectators over the age of 2 must wear masks and keep a social distance of at least 6 feet from spectators. Only two spectators may attend for each youth athlete. The youth athletes themselves are not required to wear masks.
Reynolds’ proclamation also orders the use of masks in salons, barbershops, massage therapy offices, tattoo parlors and tanning salons, except when performing facial services. There are also social distancing rules for restaurants and bars, bowling alleys, arcades and indoor playgrounds and similar businesses.