April 27, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration until May 27, 2020. The proclamation loosens social distancing measures in 77 Iowa counties, including Jones County, effective Friday, May 1, and continues other restrictions until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, May 15, 2020.

The proclamation permits restaurants, fitness centers, malls, libraries, racetracks and certain other retail establishments to reopen in a limited fashion with public health measures in place. In addition, the proclamation lifts the restriction on religious and spiritual gatherings so long as churches and other gathering hosts implement reasonable public health measures. All other regulatory relief previously provided to affected Iowans is also extended until Wednesday, May 27, 2020.

As of April 27, 19 cases were reported in Jones County. Statewide April 27, 349 additional positive cases were announced for a total of 5,868 positive cases. There have been 127 deaths across the state. Linn County is one of 22 counties remaining under the restrictions.

Under the relaxed restrictions, restaurants may reopen as long as the limit themselves to 50 percent capacity, groups of customers remained no more than six people, six feet must remain between groups and individuals dining alone and no self-service was allowed. According to the proclamation, bars are not included in the relaxation.

Fitness centers, health clubs and gyms will also be allowed to reopen, while observing 50 percent capacity, having six feet of space between workout machines and other equipment and group classes limited to 10 or fewer people.

Retail establishments may also open under reduced capacity.

All businesses must also observe certain public health measures, “to ensure social distancing of employees and customers, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 consistent with guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals and the Iowa Department of Public Health.”

Mass gathering of more than 10 people are still banned, with exceptions made for “spiritual and religious gatherings” and people gathering in parked cars. Farmers markets are allowed, with proper social distancing between booths and without entertainment.

Other closures were extended through May 15, including those for: theaters, casinos, social clubs, like American Legion Posts, senior centers, amusement halls, playgrounds, campgrounds, salons and swimming pools.

Auctions are also banned, “except for livestock auctions that only include food animals and farm product auctions, which may continue to operate so long as there are no more than 25 people present in person. People who remain inside parked cars, trucks, or other enclosed motor vehicles shall not be counted in considering the number of people present.”

Should Iowa see a spike in cases, Reynolds said the restriction could be reevaluated and despite relaxed restrictions, at-risk Iowans are encouraged to remain at home.

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