DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday declared a statewide public health disaster emergency effective at noon that included limiting gatherings to 10 people and closing bars, restaurants, casinos and other businesses in response to the state’s coronavirus outbreak.
Reynolds said she took the action in activating the public health response and recovery aspects of the state disaster emergency plan to slow the community spread of the virus that already has triggered 23 confirmed cases and likely will grow in the future.
The governor said her order takes significant steps to require social distancing and limit community spread of the virus by implementing temporary measures including moving restaurants to drive-through, carryout and delivery only and closures of certain entities such as bars and recreational facilities.
The proclamation also allows state agencies additional flexibility in responding to the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, and supports the critical work of public health, the governor said in a news release.
“These are unprecedented times and the state of Iowa will do whatever is necessary to address this public health disaster,” she said. “I have authorized all available state resources, supplies, equipment and materials to combat the spread of COVID-19. The actions taken today are necessary to protect the health and safety of all Iowans and are critical to mitigating the spread of the virus.”
Other businesses closed by the governor’s action included all fitness centers, health clubs, health spas, gyms and aquatic centers; all theaters or other performance venues at which live performances or movies are shown; and all casinos and other facilities conducting wagering or gaming operations.
Social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people are prohibited at all locations and venues, including but not limited to parades, festivals, conventions and fundraisers. Facilities that conduct adult day services or other senior citizen centers must close as well.
Also, planned large gatherings and events must be canceled or postponed until after the order expires.
Other provisions of the emergency order temporarily eased licensing and regulatory provisions of Iowa law — including rules pertaining to vehicle weight limits of highways, telemedicine services and driver’s licenses.
Reynolds also directed all state agencies to “coordinate expeditiously in developing plans to mitigate the economic effects of the closings necessitated by this disaster, including potential financial support, regulatory relief, and other executive actions.”
The restrictions the order imposes on gatherings larger than 10 people, restaurants, bars, fitness centers, adult day cares and casinos end March 31 unless changed. The overall health emergency remains in effect until 11:59 p.m. April 16 unless the governor terminates or extends the provisions.