Gov. Reynolds announces bars, theaters may reopen, some school activities may resume

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DES MOINES, Iowa (WOWT) -- During her daily COVID-19 response update Wednesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced more types of businesses would be permitted to reopen soon -- including bars, movie theaters, museums, and more.

Gov. Kim Reynolds talks about the most recent developments in Iowa's COVID-19 stats dashboard at her news conference Wednesday morning, May 20, 2020. (WOWT)

Open for business

Effective Friday, Reynolds said movie theaters, zoos, aquariums, museums and wedding reception venues will be permitted to reopen under appropriate health measures in place.

Bars and restaurants that also serve alcohol will be allowed to reopen and have in-door or outdoor seating on May 28, under guidelines.

In her proclamation released online after the press conference, other updates worth mentioning include:

Auctions may be held beginning 5 a.m. of May 22 so long as there are no more than 25 people present in person. More than 25 people may be allowed if the auction is held outdoors and has enough space for social distancing.

Temporary teacher licenses may be issued for new teachers unable to complete requirements for initial licensure because of the pandemic.

The Iowa Youth Survey has been suspended and the Iowa Department of Public Health will provide guidance for the survey to be completed in 2021.

Effective June 1, Iowa public schools will be permitted to resume activities and learning including high school baseball and softball. More details on the plan for schools will be shared Thursday.

Swimming pools will be reopened for lap swimming and lessons.

Reynolds was asked what the reasoning is behind her decision to reopen businesses as the pandemic continues. She said the state has the resources to manage an uptick in coronavirus cases should a surge happen -- while the state's positivity rate is down and recovery rate is up.

Reynolds was asked several times if casinos were among the businesses to reopen May 28. She said no, and neither are amusement parks.

DOCUMENT: Iowa Public Health Emergency Declaration -- May 20 2020

Take a hike

Kayla Lyon, Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, joined the governor via live video. She announced all restrooms, cabins and shower buildings at Iowa State Parks May 22.

Youth group campsites, museums, visitor centers, shelters, and playgrounds will remain closed. Only six campers per site are allowed unless immediate family members number greater than six.

Beaches will remain open and be monitored closely. More information on guidelines are available at the IDNR's website.


Reynolds reported the state conducted 7,884 tests in March, nearly 42,000 tests in April, and more than 60,000 Iowans have been tested between May 1 and May 20.

"Our highest test day was May 12 with 4,475 tests were reported in a signal day. In addition to that, more than 12,000 Iowans have had serology testing," Reynolds said.

During Tuesday's press conference, Iowa Public Health Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati explained in-depth the how and why surrounding serology tests.

With the addition of TestIowa, Reynolds said they will meet their goal of processing 5,000 tests per day.

A hair salon owner's story

Reynolds said she has received a large amount of positive news from businesses across the state reopening, including a gym in Ames.

"They were just happy to come back, even if that meant under different circumstances," Reynolds said. "When salons and barbershops reopened last Friday, appointments were booked for weeks on end."

Mandy DeVries, owner of Fusion Hair and Spa in Davenport joined the governor's briefing via video.

DeVries was the recipient of an Iowa small business relief grant and was brought on to speak on how her business is resuming after weeks of being closed.

"Receiving word of our temporary closure brought a flood of emotions for us and for many others," she said. The business adopted, keeping in contact with employees while they created "at-home customizable product kits" for clients.

Upon word she would receive the business grant, DeVries rehired employees -- especially those who had not yet received unemployment benefits.

The business underwent changes to enable social distancing for employees among other health guidelines to be followed, like only allowing 50 percent capacity within the salon.

"As of Monday, we are fully operational," DeVries said. "I can say confidently our staff and clients are thrilled we are open for business. Some of our clients have shared that our salon is the first place they have been since March."

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