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DES MOINES (AP) — Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday that Iowa movie theaters, museums, zoos and wedding reception venues can reopen as of Friday, despite the hundreds of new COVID-19 cases being confirmed in the state every day.
The Republican governor also said that state campground restrooms, showers and cabins can reopen in time for Memorial Day weekend. Camping will be allowed for tents and all campers, but playgrounds, shelters and visitor centers will remain closed.
Reynolds said bars can reopen next week at 50% capacity. She also said summer school-sponsored activities such as softball and baseball can resume as of June 1 and that she will provide more details Thursday about schools.
Casinos were not included in the governor’s plans, and Reynolds said conversations were underway with the industry to determine how they might safely reopen.
Reynolds said she believes new COVID-19 cases and deaths were stabilizing, though the state still registers around 200 to 300 new positive cases and a dozen new deaths per day. She said she believes the state’s testing capability will allow officials to track and respond to any outbreaks that may occur.
“We’ve demonstrated we have the resources to manage any type of an uptick or surge,” she said. “We have to recognize the fact that the virus in is our communities and we have to learn to navigate that until or if a vaccine is discovered.”
Asked at her daily news conference whether re-closing businesses would be an option if the number of virus cases surged, Reynolds said it would be but that it wouldn’t be a favored option.
“I think there are other things we can put in place to manage and control virus activity across the state,” she said. “It’s about education and it’s about getting in front of it, and its about understanding the scope of the virus activity through the case investigation. And so those are all things we can take a look at.”
Reynolds reopened libraries and many nonessential businesses last Friday, including restaurants, fitness centers, malls, salons and barbershops.
Dr. Rossana Rosa, a Des Moines infectious disease specialist, told The Associated Press that the data she’s tracking indicates that Iowa seems to be at a plateau of about 300 new daily cases. She said the impact of last week’s reopenings won’t be seen until the first week in June, since it can take up to two weeks for people with the disease to show symptoms.
“At this point, I think it would seem that those decisions have been made for the foreseeable future so many of us in the infectious diseases community have decided that we will continue talking about how can you stay safe when you go out,” Rosa said, referring to the decisions to reopen sectors of the economy. “If you think you’re not going to be able to maintain yourself six feet apart from any other people if you decide to go out, then you’re at risk.”