© 2020 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
IPR News
Get the latest news about the novel coronavirus from Iowa Public Radio and NPR News.

Large Gatherings Can Resume, More Businesses Can Open In Iowa June 1

The entrance to Lakeside Casino near Osceola, Iowa.
Grant Gerlock
The entrance to Lakeside Casino near Osceola, Iowa.

Large gatherings will be allowed to resume and more businesses allowed to reopen in Iowa next week under the latest changes to the state’s coronavirus emergency proclamation.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Tuesday that starting June 1, there will no longer be a 10 person limit on gatherings in Iowa. The state is asking large gatherings to limit participants to half of the venue’s capacity and take “reasonable measures” to ensure social distancing and hygiene practices.

Baseball, softball and individual sports will be allowed to resume June 1.

Also on June 1, outdoor performance venues, amusement parks, race tracks, casinos, skate parks, playgrounds and bowling alleys will be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity. Some sporting events can also start back up.

Coronavirus-related public health rules for businesses will remain in effect through June 17.

Reynolds said COVID-19 will remain in Iowa for a while.

“Our recovery is contingent upon our ability to protect both the lives and livelihoods of Iowans,” Reynolds said. “We can’t prioritize one over the other, we must prioritize both to move forward.”

Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter said Iowans with underlying health conditions and those over 65 should continue to stay home as much as possible.

“All Iowans should continue to practice good social distancing when out and about, wear masks or other cloth face coverings when social distancing is not possible,” Reisetter said. “And should continue staying home when you’re not feeling well, seeking health care when appropriate, and continuing to practice good hygiene like covering coughs and sneezes, and washing hands and using hand sanitizer continue to be incredibly important.”

Last week, Reynolds announced that bars will be allowed to open this Thursday following the same public health guidelines as restaurants. This also applies to breweries, wineries, distilleries and social clubs.

An official from Polk County, which has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, reminded residents Tuesday that the virus is still a risk as it continues to spread in the area.

“We understand the pain of the last two months of isolation, but please do not make that a wasted effort by throwing caution to the wind,” said Polk County Board of Supervisors Chair Matt McCoy.

He said the county sheriff’s office and Des Moines police will monitor crowds when bars reopen.

Rebecca Fischer, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Texas A&M University, said it can be challenging to overcome the public perception that it’s safe to be out in the community as businesses reopen and activities resume.

“The virus hasn’t changed. We still have risk,” Fischer said. “More people in the community now are infected and available to transmit the disease to you than when we started these restrictions.”

Fischer added social distancing is still the most important tool for preventing spread of the coronavirus. There is still no cure or vaccine for the virus.