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Despite state law, Iowa City issues mask mandate

Iowa City enacted a mask mandate Thursday despite a state law banning local governments from requiring face coverings.

IOWA CITY, Calif. — Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague enacted a mask mandate Thursday despite a state law banning local governments from requiring face coverings.

The order cited an "alarming rate" of positive COVID-19 cases and the pending return of thousands of students to the University of Iowa.

"We know that vaccines are the number one most effective measure a person can take against the virus," Teague said. "We also know that masks are the next line of defense. For these reasons, and with the support of the entire city council, we are present and standing in solidarity with me today."

“It’s against the law and it’s not enforceable," said Pat Garrett, a spokesperson for Governor Kim Reynold's office. "COVID-19 has been around for over a year, Iowans know how to protect themselves and their families."

The city's new order requires masks in most public places including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Hardware stores
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Public school buildings
  • University of Iowa academic buildings and business offices
  • Houses of worship
  • Movie theaters
  • Outside if it isn't possible to keep six feet from others
  • When using public transportation or private car service (including taxis, ride share or carpooling)

Under the order, the following groups of people are exempt:

  • Children under two years old
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing, is on oxygen therapy or a ventilator
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance
  • Anyone who has been told by a medical, legal or behavioral health professional not to wear a mask
  • Anyone actively engaged in a public safety role, including but not limited to law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel

People are also exempt from the mask mandate under the following circumstances:

  • While traveling in a personal vehicle alone or with household members
  • While a person is alone or in the presence of only household members
  • While exercising at moderate or high intensity
  • While seated at a food establishment in the process of eating or drinking
  • While obtaining a service that would require temporary removal of the mask
  • When federal or state law prohibits wearing a face covering or requires the removal of the mask

The order is set to expire Sept. 30 unless extended.

"The University of Iowa strongly encourages the use of face masks on campus, especially in all classroom settings and during in-person office hours," the school said in a statement. "However, as a state agency, we are expected to comply with state law and the guidance of our governing body, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa."

WATCH: Gov. Reynolds addresses letter from Biden administration regarding lack of mask mandate for schools 

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