January 18, 2021

Volume XI, Number 18

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January 15, 2021

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Iowa Governor Issues Proclamation With Updated COVID-19 Measures

On November 16, 2020, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued a public health proclamation imposing public health measures on a variety of employers to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Iowa Department of Public Health also issued a brief summary of the proclamation. The proclamation went into effect on 12:01 a.m. on November 17, 2020, and will stay in effect until 11:59 p.m. on December 10, 2020.

Employee and Public Protection

The proclamation requires that all employers “evaluate whether any more of their employees can feasibly work remotely and to the extent reasonable,  … take steps to enable such employees to work from home.” All other businesses with in-person operations must “take reasonable precautions [against COVID-19] to ensure the health [and safety] of their employees and members of the public, including appropriate employee screening, social distancing practices, and increased cleaning and hygiene practices.”

Use of Masks or Face Coverings Indoors

The proclamation requires all persons aged two or older to “wear a mask or other face covering when inside an indoor space that is open to the public and within six feet of individuals who are not members of their household for 15 minutes or longer.” The proclamation has a number of exceptions, only a few of which are applicable to employers, including:

  • “[a]ny person with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a mask or face covering”;

  • “[a]ny person working alone or working in a space where six feet of physical distance can be maintained, or the person is otherwise able to avoid prolonged contact with other individuals outside their household”;

  • “[a]ny person consuming food or drink or sitting at a restaurant or bar table to eat or drink”;

  • “[a]ny person giving a religious, political, media, educational, artistic, cultural, musical, or theatrical presentation or performance for an audience”;

  • “[a]ny person who is deaf or hard of hearing, and any person while communicating with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing or has a disability … that makes communication with that individual while wearing a mask or face covering difficult”;

  • “[a]ny person obtaining or providing a service that requires the temporary removal of a mask or face covering”;

  • “[a]ny person asked to remove a mask or face covering to verify an identity for lawful purposes”; and

  • “[a]ny person otherwise exempted from this requirement by another section of this Proclamation.”

Gatherings

The proclamation further prohibits indoor gatherings of more than 15 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 30 people. This prohibition includes “nonessential gatherings and events where people who do not ordinarily live or work together congregate indoors.” The prohibition does not apply to “gatherings that occur during the ordinary course of business or government between employees or members of the public, including, but not limited to gatherings in an office or manufacturing workplace, [or] normal retail operations.”

Reopening of Businesses and Establishments

The proclamation also imposes numerous requirements for a variety of different employers and businesses. The below table breaks down what is required for each type of employer/business.

Business Type

Requirements

Restaurants and bars

  • Limit hours for in-person consumption on the premises from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. However, this does not limit a business from serving food via carry-out, drive-through, or delivery.

  • Ensure social distancing of “at least six feet … between each group or individual dining alone.” Seating at booths may still be available if establishments install barriers to separate the customers.

  • Require that all customers “consume their food or beverage while seated at the table or booth.”

  • Groups are limited to eight people, unless the group consists of members from the same household. Establishments are also prohibited from hosting “private social gatherings larger than 15 people indoors or 30 people outdoors.”

  • All customers must wear masks or face coverings unless seated at a properly distanced booth or table.

  • “[I]mplement reasonable 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 Public Health.”

Fitness centers

  • Ensure that all equipment is “spaced at least six feet apart or take other appropriate measures to ensure that more closely-spaced equipment is not used.”

  • “All group fitness activities are prohibited.”

  • “[I]mplement reasonable 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 Public Health.”

Casinos and gaming facilities

  • “Encourage social distancing by spacing gaming positions at least six feet apart, turning off alternating gaming machines, or separating positions with a barrier.”

  • Take measures to reasonably reduce the risk of transmission at table games, including “limiting the number [of] patrons at a table, encouraging or requiring face covering[s] [for] patrons or employees, providing hand sanitizer, or taking other precautions.

  • Comply with the abovementioned food and beverage restrictions for bars and restaurants.

  • “[R]equire all customers to wear a mask or face covering while in the establishment unless seated at a properly distanced booth or table to eat or drink.” Likewise, “employees who interact with customers [must] wear a mask or face covering.”

  • “[I]mplement reasonable 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 Public Health.”

Senior citizen and adult daycare facilities

  • Ensure that all facilities comply with guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Salons, barbershops, massage therapy establishments, tattoo establishments, and tanning facilities

  • “[E]nsure that all customers are at least six feet apart when performing … services unless customers and providers closer than six feet apart are wearing face coverings.”

  • “All customers and providers [must] wear masks or face coverings … unless a service is being provided on the face that requires removing the mask or face covering … and the customer remains at least six feet apart from all other customers.”

  • [I]mplement reasonable 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 Public Health.”

Bowling alleys, pool halls, bingo halls, arcades, indoor playgrounds, and children’s play centers

  • Establishments must close to the public from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. However, this does not limit a business from serving food via carry-out, drive through, or delivery.

  • [L]imit the group size seated or patronizing the establishment … to no more than eight people unless all members of the group are members of the same household.”

  • Establishments are prohibited from hosting “private social gatherings larger than 15 people indoors or 30 people outdoors.”

  • “Require all customers to wear a mask or face covering … unless seated at a properly distanced booth or table to eat or drink.”

  • “[E]nsure at least six feet of physical distance between each group or individual patronizing the establishment.”

  • “Implement reasonable 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 Public Health.”

Medical spas

  • Medical spas “may reopen or remain open … but only if the medical spa complies with the requirements for performing outpatient procedures that utilize [personal protective equipment].”

Theatres and performance venues, and race tracks

  • “[E]nsure at least six feet of physical distance between each group or individual.”

  • “[I]mplement reasonable 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 Public Health.”

Malls

  • Play areas must remain closed.

  • “[I]mplement reasonable 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 Public Health.”

Other establishments, including museums, aquariums, zoos, libraries, swimming pools, amusement parks, campgrounds, and retail establishments

  • Such establishments “may reopen or remain open, but only to the extent that the facility takes reasonable measures … to ensure social distancing of employees and patrons, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 consistent with [g]uidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health.”

Lastly, the proclamation allows hospitals, outpatient surgery providers, and outpatient procedure providers to “conduct in-patient surgeries and procedures that, if further delayed, will pose a significant risk to quality of life and any outpatient surgeries or procedures” if the following requirements are met:

  • The hospital or provider has “adequate inventories of personal protective equipment (PPE)”, “access to a reliable supply chain [of PPE] without relying on state or local government PPE stockpiles”, and “[a] plan to conserve PPE consistent with guidance issued by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] and Iowa Department of Public Health.”

  • The hospital or provider “must have a plan for timely COVID-19 testing of symptomatic patients and staff,” which follows guidance issued by the CDC, the Iowa Department of Public Health, or the provider’s professional specialty society. “For scheduled surgeries patients should have a negative COVID-19 test performed within 72 hours of the surgery date. If a COVID-19 test is not available, a hospital or provider should consider alternative methods to determine the patient’s probability of COVID-19.” If the patient has symptoms associated with COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, low oxygen saturation), “then postponing the surgery is recommended.”

  • “A hospital must continue to accept and treat COVID-19 patients and must not transfer COVID-19 patients to create capacity for elective procedures.”

  • “A hospital must reserve at least 10% of intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 10% of medical/surgical beds for COVID-19 patients.”

  • “The total number of medical/surgical and observational beds used for an in-patient nonessential surgery or procedure must be no more than 50% of the number of such beds that were used on average during the month of September 2020.”

  • Hospitals and providers must cease conducting such surgeries or procedures if they are no longer able to satisfy all of the above requirements. “All hospitals and providers [must] have a plan in place to monitor compliance and a transition plan to reduce or suspend procedures and surgeries as necessary.”

The proclamation also provides that “[a]ll nonessential or elective surgeries and procedures that utilize PPE must not be conducted” (except the procedures mentioned above). According to the proclamation, “each hospital, outpatient surgery provider, and outpatient procedure provider [must] limit all nonessential individuals in surgery and procedure suites and patient care areas where PPE is required. Only individuals essential to conducting the surgery or procedure [may] be present.”

Notably, the proclamation does not contain any enforcement provision or specific penalties, but it does state that various state agencies are “directed to monitor the operation and implementation of this proclamation to assure the public’s health and safety.”

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© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 339
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About this Author

Colin Hargreaves Employment Lawyer Ogletree Deakins Law Firm
Associate

Colin is an associate in the Minneapolis office of Ogletree Deakins. Colin graduated from the University of St. Thomas School of Law, where he earned Dean’s List honors several times and gained substantial hands-on litigation experience, including participating on one of the School’s Moot Court teams and arguing a motion before a Federal Bankruptcy Judge in one of the School’s Clinics. Colin received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin—Stout.

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