"Iowa Old Capitol Museum" by Tony Webster is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
A city-wide mask mandate goes into effect in Iowa City Aug. 19 at 11:59 p.m. This mandate opposes the spirit of the state law HF 847, passed May 20, which prohibits cities and counties from issuing mask mandates more severe than those enforced at the state level.
Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague declared a civil emergency in the Mayor’s Order signed earlier the same day. The mandate is set to expire Sept. 30, though may be extended later.
“The delta variant has reached our community, and as numbers of positive cases continue to grow, we are now also faced with an influx of students arriving in our community from around the world as well as the beginning of a new school year for our local youth,” Teague said.
The order requires facial coverings in any public indoor environment, on public transportation and outdoors if social distancing is not possible. It includes typical exemptions for medical conditions, age, eating and exercising.
Pat Garrett, a spokesperson for Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, responded to the mandate in a statement to KCRG. He said the order was against the law and unenforceable, adding that COVID-19 has been around long enough for Iowans to know how to protect themselves.
Teague’s defense lies in the fine print. The city order requires individuals to wear facial coverings, while HF 847 prevents cities and counties from requiring property owners to mandate facial coverings.
“We want everyone in the city of Iowa City to know that we are doing these extraordinary measures to ensure that we all get out of this [COVID-19] pandemic together,” Teague said. “The city of Iowa City, the councilors and the staff stand in full solidarity in saying, please follow this order of wearing a mask.”
This mask mandate comes four days before students in the Cedar Rapids Community School District return for the next school year in person. Cedar Rapids and its schools will not require facial coverings.