Iowa opens up more in time for Memorial Day weekend

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

DES MOINES Iowa is opening up more as residents head into the first weekend of the summer season.

On Wednesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced effective May 22, movie theaters, zoos, aquariums, museums and wedding reception venues will be permitted to re-open with appropriate public health measures in place, including proper social distancing and increased hygiene.

Swimming pools will be reopening for lap swimming and swimming lessons.

"Next Thursday, May 28, bars and other establishments that serve alcohol and have been limited to carryout and delivery, will be permitted for indoor or outdoor seating at 50 percent capacity and of course they must follow the same public health measures and guidelines that restaurants have implemented," Reynolds said.

Effective June 1, Iowa schools will be permitted to resume school sponsored activities and learning, according to the appropriate public and health precautions.

"This will include high school baseball and softball activities," Reynolds said. "Department of Education Director Dr. Ann Lebo will be joining me tomorrow to share more about resuming school activities."

"I know that many parents and youth athletes are also eager to resume summer sports. High school athletics was the logical place to start the process of bringing athletics back in season," she said.

She added, "We are working closely with the Iowa High School Athletic Association and others to make this possible."

She continued that together with the Department of Public Health, they are also working with youth sports associations, to develop a plan to bring other sports activities back for the summer. More will be coming on that next week.

Some changes are also being made at Iowa's state parks and campgrounds in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

The Director of Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Kayla Lyon, spoke about those changes.

"All modern restrooms, shower buildings and cabins at Iowa state parks will be open starting Friday, May 22," Lyon said. "Campgrounds will be open for all campers, including RVs, campers and pop-ups, and tent camping.

"But campers will notice some stipulations. Youth group campsites will remain closed, as well as shelters, lodges, playgrounds, other group camps and visitor centers," she said.

She also said campers need to be mindful of the following things: in campgrounds, only campers with overnight reservations will be allowed, no visitors.

Only campers occupying the original campsite will be allowed to gather around the campfire, no guests or large groups. Only six overnight campers per campsite will be allowed unless the immediate family contains more than six.

"Communal grills and tables are open for use at your own risk. Beaches will remain open and they will be monitored closely," she said.

She said she and staff have seen an increase in the number of people visiting the parks since the COVID-19 restrictions in March.

Reynolds responded to questions about casinos, saying casinos are not included in this round of openings.

She has received information from the industry about how they can respond to a phased in approach in their establishments.

"This is a discussion. They have asked us to connect them with the Department of Public Health. Those are conversations going on," Reynolds said.

Amusement parks are also not included in the current round of openings.

"They are also looking at protocols so they can open in a safe and responsible manner," Reynolds said.

"We have to learn to live with this, it's not going away," she said.

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