DES MOINES, Iowa– Today dozens of bars in four counties are opening their doors after getting the green light from the governor yesterday.
Those four counties include Polk, Dallas, Linn and Blackhawk.
For most bars this will be their second or third time reopening. The owner of Tonic Bar in the Historic Court District said today is business as usual.
“I haven’t had a problem with any of the proclamations. So we have everything in place. I feel like our environment is very comfortable. And I believe my staff is well trained in making sure everybody feels that way,” Kyle Prtichard said.
Social distancing guidelines at all bars will still be in place. The biggest change from the new proclamation is that customers must be seated while eating and drinking.
According to the Iowa Restaurant Association the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals along with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division will partner with police to enforce guidelines not only inside of the bar but outside as well.
“We really truly believe that restaurants and bars in all 99 counties are taking the steps to keep people safe,” President of the Iowa Restaurant Association, Jessica Dunker said. “That’s one of the reasons you see pictures on the streets of a lot of people waiting around, is because inside the establishments, they have taken the measures that limit capacities, and that is really the issue.”
Johnson and Story County are now the only two counties where bars are still not allowed to open.
These counties are home to the largest universities in the state, Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. Governor Reynolds has said young adults in those counties have driven up COVID-19 rates in Iowa.
Dunker said without these establishments in Story and Johnson receiving additional support, Iowa could see more than 1000 restaurants and bars close.
“If you care about any local establishment in Story or in Johnson County, right now today you have to do something for them,” Dunker said. “Many of them don’t cater to students and have nothing to do with the students. And yet, that demographic population has those establishments’ fate in their hands.”