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What Iowa’s new mask law means for schools, businesses and cities

Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 11:54 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Governor Kim Reynolds on Thursday signed a bill prohibiting cities, counties and schools from mandating masks, but the new law does not prohibit businesses from requiring customers to wear masks.

Here’s what House File 847 means for schools, cities/counties, and businesses:

Schools:

Superintendents, and school district board of directors cannot implement a policy requiring employees, students, or visitors to wear a facial covering while on campus except when necessary for a specific extracurricular or instructional purpose, or when required by provision of law.

Schools in eastern Iowa, including the Cedar Rapids Community School District, Iowa City Community School District, and the Waterloo Community School District have all announced they will abide by the new law. The schools are making masks optional, while recommending that staff and students wear them. Cedar Rapids schools announced plans to maintain its mask mandate through the rest of the school year and throughout summer activities, but have now dropped the mandate.

Cities and Counties:

County leaders cannot adopt an ordinance or resolution requiring businesses to implement policies related to the use of face coverings that is stricter than the policy imposed by the state.

This means county and city officials cannot impose face mask mandates on businesses.

After the CDC released its latest guidance, Mayors in Coralville, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo and Dubuque revised their mask mandates to allow fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks in most settings. Now, cities can no longer impose mask mandates regardless of whether people have been vaccinated.

Businesses:

The new law imposes no limitation on businesses owners, who are still free to require customers to wear masks if they choose. However, after the latest guidance from the CDC, some businesses have already relaxed their mask policies.

Hy-Vee announced earlier this week that it would no longer require fully vaccinated customers and employees to wear masks in its stores. The except to this was that Hy-Vee would still require masks at stores in places that had local ordinances requiring masks. However, Iowa’s new law makes it so cities and counties can no longer impose those ordinances.

Target, Costco, Starbucks and several other national stores recently announced relaxed mask policies.

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