Gov. Kim Reynolds signs emergency proclamation closing all bars in Story County


Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at her Tuesday press conference. 

Amber Mohmand

Gov. Kim Reynolds issued an emergency proclamation closing all bars, taverns, wineries, breweries, distilleries and nightclubs in Story County, along with five other counties. 

“I don’t make these decisions lightly, and it’s not lost on me that every business — forced to close, alter their hours and sales, even temporarily —  plays a role in the lives of Iowa workers and our small businesses,” Reynolds said in a press conference Thursday. “But these actions are absolutely necessary and come from guidance within the Iowa Department of Public Health […] and then I know today’s decision is the right one.”

The proclamation will take effect 5 p.m. Thursday for Black Hawk, Dallas, Johnson, Linn, Polk and Story counties. 

Restaurants that sell alcohol are permitted to stay open but must stop selling alcohol after 10 p.m. each night. 

Reynolds said there will be enforcement mechanisms for those who do not comply with the emergency proclamation. 

“There will be enforcement mechanisms for those that don’t comply like there is with any other part of health disaster proclamation,” Reynolds said. “I’ve asked the local police enforcement to help us monitor to at least let us know where they see if people aren’t following through with the guidelines, so we’ll continue to monitor and enforce.” 

Over the past two weeks, Reynolds said 23 percent of the positive COVID-19 cases statewide are between the ages of 19 to 24. In Story County, 67 percent of the positive COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks are between the ages of 19 to 24. 

“The increase in the virus activity among young adults is the result of socializing and large groups, not social distancing, getting the virus and spreading it to classmates, co-workers or others,” Reynolds said. “And so while we still know that this population is less likely to be severely impacted by COVID-19, it is increasing the virus activity in the community and it’s spilling over to other segments of the population. So we are at a point where it is starting to become a workforce issue as well.” 

Iowa State University faced backlash as thousands of students and Ames community members celebrated “801 day” on Aug. 15 with large parties, no masks and little social distancing measures.

Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen also announced in an email sent Friday that all on-campus and off-campus gatherings of students must comply with all health orders, including wearing appropriate face coverings and limiting the size of the gathering to ensure 6-foot physical distancing. Students attending any social gathering, on- or off-campus, must comply with the university’s face covering mandate and physical distancing guidelines.

Students who engage in “irresponsible behavior, including attending large gatherings or parties that violate physical distancing and face covering rules, will be subject to university discipline, and could lead to suspension,” according to the email. 

“Last weekend the nation saw an example of this type of behavior by many of our students participating in large gatherings and parties,” Wintersteen wrote in the email. “This is unacceptable and must stop. It puts the health and safety of our campus and community at risk and it jeopardizes our ability to continue with an on-campus experience and in-person classes and activities as we have seen at other universities across the country.” 

Additionally, positive COVID-19 cases spiked as over 1,000 Iowans tested positive for the virus reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health on Thursday. 

Reynolds wrote in the proclamation that masks or face coverings are strongly recommended for Iowans ages 2 and older. 

“It’s not enforceable,” Reynolds said when asked about a mask mandate. “You just see it over and over and over when somebody says that they are issuing a mask mandate and almost within the same paragraph, they say that they’re not going to enforce it […] Let’s focus on being responsible. Let’s focus on flattening the curve, and let’s focus on doing the right thing and I believe that we can do that without a mask mandate.” 

Recently, the Ames City Council voted to approve an ordinance that would mandate face coverings in the city of Ames but will have no penalty enforcing the mandate.

The original draft of the ordinance that failed would have enforced any person ages 3 years and older to wear a mask anywhere the public is invited and social distancing is not accessible and accommodated for anyone with medical conditions unable to wear masks.

A violation would result in a $50 fine, but in attempts to “obtain compliances” with the ordinance, “education and encouragement” would be utilized first, making a citation a last resort, according to the draft.

Reynold’s emergency proclamation will expire Sept. 20.