Dallas County bars closed by Reynolds’ latest order

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A recent gathering of young adults in Ames appears to violate the recommended rules for social distances.

College towns have seen recent spikes in numbers of positive cases of SARS-CoV-2.

All bars, breweries and nightclubs in Dallas County will close at 5 p.m. today on the order of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. The three-week anti-virus lock down also applies to similar venues in Polk, Linn, Johnson, Story and Black Hawk counties.

The governor’s order, issued Thursday morning in response to the high positive test rates among adults age 19 to 24, also prohibited restaurants from selling alcohol after 10 p.m.

The lock down will expire Sept. 20, Reynolds said.

Dallas County’s current 14-day positive case rate for SARS-CoV-2 stands at 8.2%, far lower than Johnson County’s 69% or Story County’s 74%.

Abigail Chihak

“We want to keep it that way,” said Abigail Chihak, community health administrator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.

Chihak said Dallas County was probably included in the governor’s latest lock down order because of its proximity to higher-rate counties and the heavy commuter traffic between the counties.

“They didn’t give a specific reason,” she said, “but I assume it has to do with because a lot of communities they picked were college towns with a lot of young adults, and Dallas County’s population is kind of skewed that way. We have a large young adult population, and we’re very close to the metro.”

Chihak said the local lock down “has a lot to do with the back and forth between our county and Polk and Story because people don’t just stay in one county but go back and forth.”

Jeremy Mahler

Perry’s handful of taverns has so far survived the virus-forced closures that started on St. Patrick’s Day. Jeremy Mahler, owner of the twinned Commonwealth Provisions sandwich shop and the Proletariat bar on Second Street in downtown Perry, said he would roll with the governor’s latest punch.

“I don’t think this effects me in any particular way other than having to stop selling alcohol at 10 p.m.,” Mahler said.

According to the proclamation, restaurants may remain open but must not sell or serve alcohol after 10:00 p.m. Mahler said the 10 p.m. cut-off time seemed to him capricious.

“I do think that the business closings and times are super arbitrary and make zero sense,” he said. “You won’t catch COVID if you are eating and home by 10 p.m.? Dumb.”

Mahler also pointed out an exception in the governor’s order, which “does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol on a casino floor, inside an individual theater or in a person’s hotel room.”

“I don’t see anything about Casinos,” he said. “I wonder why.”

Reynolds’ proclamation continues to “strongly encourage” all Iowans to wear a mask or other face covering but stops shirt of requiring it. Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie issued an emergency proclamation Wednesday mandating that masks or face shields be worn in all public places, including retail stores, restaurants and bars.

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