The effect of Reynolds’ proclamation on bars


Courtesy Photo

With Gov. Reynolds lifting a multitude of COVID-19 restrictions, many wonder how certain bars will be affected.

JEFFREY REICKS, Guest Columnist

On Friday, Feb. 5, Governor Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation that, among other things, lifted state-wide COVID-19 restrictions on in-person gatherings and a mandate on wearing masks in public. 

This has created a situation where the only legal restriction related to COVID-19 in Cedar Falls is a local mask mandate.

Many argue this move by Reynolds was reckless, as the ‘U.K. variant’ has been identified in Iowa and the state’s COVID-19 death toll recently passed 5,000, per Others see the move being justified as the number of hospitalizations are down 80% from their peak in mid-November and Iowa moving to the second phase of vaccinations at most nursing homes according to KCRG News. One student who thinks this is Elli Winter, a senior majoring in marketing, who said “I think with the current COVID rates and the amount of vaccinations being given, it’s finally time for us to live our lives.”

Reynolds, in an interview on Monday with Sean Hannity, affirmed she still recommends reasonable public health measures but that she trusts Iowans to do so on their own. She also stated, “They did what they needed to do and I told them we’d dial up and dial down accordingly. We’re dialing down, we’re opening up and we’re going to continue to do everything we can to come back stronger and better than ever.”

Many are asking what this means for businesses like bars. Bars on College Hill could operate as before the pandemic, but Kyle Dehmlow, owner of Social House and Little Bigs, does not plan to do this in the near future. 

“We are making the conscious choice to not go back to no restrictions,” he said. “We don’t think we’re there. We don’t think the customers are there quite yet. Some might be more confident than others. Some might need some convincing or time with it, and we will kind of look at that as it comes up and as time goes by, and we’ll see. We’ll make that choice when we feel comfortable and when our customers feel comfortable.”

On the topic of what to do with the former restrictions, he explained, “We are choosing to keep some guidelines that have been mandated before in place. We are going to consider them guidelines now… We’re not going to put our full capacity in here for now; we’re going to keep our staff in masks; we’re not going to put all the tables back right now. Our sanitizing procedures are not a guideline (but are instead requirements).”

He continued, “They’ve always been there but we’re going to keep them enhanced.”

This, however, does not mean that other bars will do the same. The lack of restrictions allows bars to operate however they choose from now on. Some business owners, like Dehmlow, predict reverting to their pre-COVID-19 operations would lose them more customers than they would gain. But other bars, perhaps with a different customer demographic, predict gaining more customers than they would lose. These bars may revert to pre-COVID-19 operations with only the local mask mandate to enforce.