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Coronavirus: Restaurants, churches, malls allowed to reopen in most of Iowa starting May 1

Restrictions are being loosened starting May 1.

Iowa has become the latest state in the U.S. to loosen some of its coronavirus mitigation restrictions, going so far as to allow restaurants, malls and churches to reopen in the majority of its counties.

Iowa is one of the states without a shelter-in-place order, but it does have a series of restrictions on businesses and gatherings as part of a State Public Health Emergency.

On Monday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that some of these restrictions will be loosened in 77 counties effective Friday, May 1, until 11:50 p.m. on Friday, May 15.

The 22 counties not included in the measure, which includes Allamakee County on the Minnesota border, will have to wait till May 15 for the restrictions to lift.

Iowa announced a further 349 positive cases Monday for 5,868 COVID-19 cases overall, more than Minnesota. It has experienced fewer deaths however at 127.

What restrictions are being lifted?

The order will allow restaurants, fitness centers, malls, libraries, racetracks, and other retail businesses to reopen with public health measures in place. 

These include social distancing measures, with businesses told they can only operate at 50 percent of their normal operating capacity.

What's more, a restaurant can not allow groups of more than six diners at a single table, and there needs to be 6 feet of distance between tables.

Bars, where the primary business is the serving of alcohol rather than the sale of food, cannot yet reopen though can still provide takeout and curbside pick-up.

Racetracks can reopen but not with spectators, and sporting, entertainment, recreational and other gatherings with more than 10 people are still not permitted.

However, exempt from the 10-person limit on gatherings are churches and other spiritual venues, which are allowed to operate provided they "implement reasonable measures" to ensure social distancing, and increase their hygiene practices.

Wedding receptions with more than 10 people are also allowed.

Other amenities such as playgrounds, museums, swimming pools, bowling alleys, theme parks, and theaters shall continue to be closed.

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