Reynolds allows Story, Johnson bars to reopen for limited time

A Dallas County bar is seeking class action status for a lawsuit challenging the governor's COVID-19 mitigation restrictions. (Photo by Linh Ta/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds late Friday afternoon declared bars in Story and Johnson counties may reopen from Oct. 5 through Oct. 18.

Bars in the rest of the state already had the right to operate, with restrictions meant to keep patrons apart and to keep the facilities clean during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those restrictions will apply in Story and Johnson counties.

Friday’s proclamation also applies to country clubs and fraternal and social clubs.

In a separate section of the proclamation, Reynolds reopened wineries, breweries and distilleries in Johnson and Story County at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2 and continuing through Oct. 18.

Bar owners and their association had warned Reynolds that many of those businesses in Johnson and Story, the last two of six counties to get permission to reopen bars, were in danger of closing permanently if something didn’t change soon.

Story and Johnson are home to Iowa’s two largest universities and earlier in the year had been among the U.S. markets with the highest infection rates.

Ames, where Iowa State University is located, currently ranks 49th on the New York Times national list of cities hardest hit by COVID-19 since the pandemic started. Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa, currently ranks 74th among the metros hardest hit since the pandemic started, the New York Times reported.

Sioux City, where bars are open, ranks seventh.