Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), issued a state of health emergency proclamation on Friday, Feb. 5, that lifted pandemic-imposed restrictions such as social distancing, the use of masks, and limitations on social gatherings.
The measure will allow all businesses, stores, and individuals to return to normal life.
Instead of imposing mandatory rules on people and using police forces on those who do not comply, as authoritarian governments have done in different parts of the world, Reynolds appealed to people’s personal responsibility and focused on the most vulnerable population.
“I continue to strongly encourage all vulnerable Iowans, including those with pre-existing medical conditions and those over 65, in all counties of the state to continue to limit their activities outside of their home, including their visits to businesses and other establishments and their participation in gatherings of any size and any purpose,” Reynolds wrote.
“And I encourage all Iowans to limit their in-person interactions with vulnerable Iowans and to exercise particular care and caution when engaging in any necessary interactions,” she added.
Pat Garrett, spokesman for the governor, said the idea behind the proclamation is that Iowans are free to take preventative measures on their own with the Iowa Department of Public Health’s guidelines in mind. However, the state will not intervene, and no action will be forced.
The governor’s decision is in response to a significant decrease in infections and hospitalizations, as well as the widespread availability of vaccines.
The state of emergency, declared on March 7, 2020, remains in effect until March 7, 2021 but Reynolds said that if the numbers continue to drop, she will lift the state of emergency earlier.
According to The Blaze, two Democratic mayors, Frank Cownie of Des Moines, and Bruce Teague of Iowa City, expressed their rejection of the governor’s decision.
Cownie and Teague stated that they will continue to force their constituents to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and limit meetings. However, state Attorney General Tom Miller said on several occasions that cities do not have the power to impose these measures over the governor’s authority.