Bar being investigated for breaking Iowa’s COVID-19 guidelines after it moved from California to find fewer restrictions

Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 8:19 PM CST
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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KCRG) - Brian Cohen, who owns Mob Bar and Moonshine Cowgirls, moved his bar from California to Cedar Falls to avoid stricter COVID-19 restrictions. After his first weekend open, the Black Hawk County Public Health Department is investigating his establishment for violating Iowa’s coronavirus guidelines for bars.

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ emergency deceleration, which was signed December 16, said bars must have employees wear masks, limit groups to eight people, and ensure social distancing. But, videos and photos show the bar ignoring those rules.

Instagram posts from the bar show bartenders not wearing masks, people gathering at the bar and champagne showers from people standing on top of the bar. This happened after Cohen told KCRG-TV9 he planned to follow state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on New Year’s Eve.

“We have masks, we have hand sanitizer, we’re going to enforce social distancing,” Cohen said. “We will practice what the state and city want us to practice.”

Cohen told TV9 on Monday he didn’t lie to us.

“We did try 1,000 percent the best we could to enforce it,” Cohen said. “Now I said we tried, but it is a very very hard task to do.”

Cohen said his staff wasn’t wearing masks because they briefly took them off when a photo was taken. Cohen understands his bar could have acted better but believed he was targeted.

“It happens, it happens,” Cohen said. “We’re used to doing the party, throwing the party, putting it up on social media and showing everyone we did an amazing job. Was it the smartest decision ever to put a video of the champagne shower on social media, apparently not.”

Cohen said he plans to increase mitigation efforts at his bar with temperature checks and blocking off booths next to each other.

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