New regulations give bars and restaurants 3 strikes for social distancing

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 11:18 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Starting this week, the State of Iowa is increasing its efforts to enforce social distancing in bars and restaurants. Bars and restaurants now have three chances to make sure they are social distancing customers and following good hygiene practices.

The press release from The Alcoholic Beverages Division outlines the three-strike process as follows:

For businesses with an alcoholic beverage permit or license, the Alcoholic Beverages Division will issue a $1,000 fine for the first offense. For businesses with only a food license, DIA will issue a warning.

The second documented infraction for either a business with only a food license as well as those with both a food and alcohol permit or license will trigger a seven-day suspension 2 of the business' alcohol permit or license by ABD, as well as a seven-day suspension by DIA of the business' food license.

A third infraction will trigger the revocation of all food and alcohol permits and licenses for the offending business.

Just Cuz is a bar in downtown Cedar Rapids. Assistant Manager Chris Newitt says the bar has been operating at half capacity since reopening several months ago. When they found out about the enforced regulations Thursday morning, Newitt says they removed 15% of the seating they had left. “Working around it is more desirable than having Governor Reynolds shut us down. So, we’re more than happy to comply with her needs. And we recognize the importance of social distancing and keeping everyone safe,” says Newitt.

Newitt says customers have been understanding about the limited capacity, saying “They wonder what’s going on with the black X’s, and we explain it, and they say ‘oh that’s okay that’s fine’. So hopefully we learn some more in the future.” He says he’s expecting to see more inspections than normal. Local public health departments will be enforcing the rules, which is a change from their normal role of passing along information and educating the public.

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