Jones County was one of 77 counties across the state of Iowa that had restrictions on gatherings and businesses eased May 1.
The governor’s new proclamation permitted restaurants, fitness centers, malls, libraries, racetracks and certain other retail establishments to reopen in a limited fashion with public health measures in place. It also lifted restrictions on religious and spiritual gatherings, so long as churches and other gathering hosts implement reasonable public health measures.
Despite the go ahead to open in a limited fashion, many businesses and other places are still taking things slow.
Area libraries and city buildings have decided to remain closed. At their April 28 meeting, Anamosa City Administrator Jacob Sheridan said city buildings would remain closed through at least May 15 and area libraries have opted not to open.
Likewise, despite restrictions being lifted statewide for religious services, they continue to be kept virtual. Following the governor’s announcement, and citing the desire to keep vulnerable priests and parishioners as safe as possible, the Archdiocese of Dubuque leaders released a statement saying that “we have decided it would be most prudent for now to continue to follow the liturgical restrictions we have in place, including the suspension of public masses.
Without an effective vaccine or widespread testing and contact data that justifies a change in course, we simply are not at a place where we can resume our previous prayer practices.”
Even those that initially planned on reopening, changed their mind. Local Lutheran services were set to resume in Olin and Wyoming, before following advice from the Jones County Public Health Department to continue not to hold in-person services.
With the odd exceptions, despite the allowance for restaurants to have limited seating, many restaurants have opted to continue curbside and pickups only, despite being allowed limited dine-in customers.
Citing safety concerns, area restauranteurs felt it was not the right moment to open up.
“There is nothing I want more than to take the chairs off these tables and see all of you who I have missed so dearly. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I am still not able to see my Mom and give her a hug, then I’m going to do everything in my power to protect all my other moms and dads in this coffee shop, too,” Grounds & Goodies Owner Mary Oldham announced on the business’ Facebook page.
Notable exceptions included restaurants that had decided to close instead of limit business to take out. Alley 9 Bar and Grill took the opportunity to open for carryout, and Larry’s Place on Main Street, Anamosa, had closed and decided to open for limited dine-in.
Other businesses that were forced to close completely under the governor’s previous proclamations, subsisting on online sales only, took the opportunity to open with precautions in place.
Spark Boutique opened for business with limited hours, while continuing curbside and delivery options for customers. Co-owners Nicole Claussen and Lauri Martensen said it was nice to be able to open their storefront back up. The pair recognized that clothes as a commodity were not as important as things like food, but with clothes sales, people want to try things on and not being able to have the store open has had an impact.
“We do a fraction, and it truly is a fraction, of online sales, compared to brick and mortar business,” Claussen said.
Martensen added that the impact on the business has been “significant.”
During their shut down, the owners of the Clever Feather started up a Facebook group that attracted hundreds of members so that patrons could continue to browse the wares of their more than 60 vendors. Even as the storefront is open again, the business will continue to utilize online resources.
“We sold quite a bit of stuff online, and we’re going to continue to use it,” Dean Eilers said.
“Some people like to shop at home in their pajamas,” Robyn Eilers added.