Defying Governor, Iowa City Mandates Masks in Public

Iowa City, Iowa – Iowa City’s mayor ordered people last week to wear masks in public to stop the spread of the coronavirus, defying Gov. Kim Reynolds’ claim that cities cannot mandate face coverings.

Iowa has been one of the only states that does not have any enforceable local or state mask mandates. The Republican governor has said that she believes residents will wear them on their own and that municipalities can require them only if she grants that authority, which she’s refused to do.

But Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague rejected that claim as he announced an order mandating masks in public in the city of roughly 75,000 people. He cited the home-rule authority granted to cities in the state constitution and a law that gives mayors the power to govern by proclamation when an “emergency or public danger exists.”

Teague’s order requires people to wear face coverings in public places, including in stores and many other settings outside the home. People who are eating and drinking in restaurants and bars, jogging, biking or driving in personal vehicles are exempt, as are children under 2 and public safety officials.

Businesses must post signs telling customers of their legal obligations to wear face coverings and cannot serve those without one. Teague said violations could be punished through simple misdemeanor citations, which will be issued only as a last resort.

Spokesmen for Reynolds and Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller said that their bosses believe Teague exceeded his authority, but did not indicate whether the state would try to block his order.

The governor encourages people to wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible but “does not believe a governmental mask mandate is appropriate,” said Reynolds spokesman Pat Garrett.

– Associated Press

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