Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Iowa, US, to lift additional COVID-19-related business and movement restrictions starting May 28.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Dubuque, Iowa
  • Waterloo, Iowa
  • Sioux City, Iowa
  • Burlington, Iowa
  • Mason City, Iowa
  • Ames, Iowa

This alert began 26 May 2020 20:51 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 Restrictions
  • Location(s): Iowa (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Authorities in Iowa will lift additional business and movement restrictions over the upcoming days as part of the state's coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery plan. Starting May 28, bars, wineries, and distilleries may reopen, as long as they limit the number of customers to 50 percent of their maximum capacity. Moreover, an existing ban on gatherings of more than 10 people will be lifted June 1, the date on which Iowa will allow outdoor performance venues, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement parks, outdoor playgrounds, and skating rinks to reopen, as well as permitting spectators to attend sporting and outdoor cultural events. Nevertheless, state authorities will require all such venues and establishments to comply with strict social distancing guidelines and capacity limitations in order to prevent any increase in COVID-19 activity.

Since May 15, the following businesses and services have been allowed to operate statewide:

  • Dine-in services at restaurants
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Malls
  • Retail stores
  • Personal care businesses, including barbershops, hair salons, spas, massage therapy services, and tattoo and tanning facilities
  • Racetracks
  • Campgrounds
  • Libraries

Movie theaters, zoos, and museums have also been allowed to reopen. All establishments must limit the number of customers present in their facilities to 50 percent of their maximum capacity. They must also enhance sanitation measures and ensure physical distancing between customers and employees. Farmers' markets are also allowed to open, and nonessential medical procedures are allowed to resume. Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks, as well as facilities in the transport, security, media, energy, and critical manufacturing industries, have not been subject to mandatory closures.

Officials continue to encourage all residents to limit the time they spend outside their residences, especially those 65 years and older and those with underlying medical conditions. In-person lessons at all schools remain canceled through the end of the academic year.

Transport and business disruptions will continue. Authorities will keep additional security personnel deployed to assist in enforcing restrictions that remain in force. Officials could amend the orders at short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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