social distancing

Beginning this week, the State of Iowa will take additional steps to enforce compliance with Governor Reynolds' emergency public health disaster proclamation regarding social distancing and advanced hygiene practices at Iowa bars, restaurants, and other food establishments.

The Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD) and Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) will work together to ensure that businesses follow public health guidelines set forth by the proclamation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a press release forwarded to the Herald-Leader from the Bellevue Police Department, Chief Lynn Schwager said fines have been established for restaurants and bars not following certain regulations, but he said he doesn’t foresee any problems in the local community.

“We have had no complaints on any local businesses to this point. I think all our business owners are responsible people who want to see an end to this pandemic as much as any of us and I am confident they will continue to follow best practices as recommended,” said Schwager. “If any citizens observe anything other than this happening, I would encourage them to bring it to our attention.

To promote social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19, the proclamation requires establishments to create at least six feet of physical distance between each group or individual dining or drinking alone, all patrons must have a seat at a table or bar, and an establishment must limit patrons from congregating together closer than six feet.

"Public safety is of the utmost importance. Although a majority of bars and restaurants are voluntarily complying with social distancing requirements, we will take these necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of Iowans,” said DIA Director Larry Johnson.

“COVID-19 is still with us and we need bars and restaurants to help mitigate the spread of the virus,” said Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division Administrator Stephen Larson. “For those businesses that choose not to, they need to understand that there are consequences.”

Progressive discipline

For businesses with an alcoholic beverage permit or license, the Alcoholic Beverages Division will issue a $1,000 fine for the first offense. For businesses with only a food license, DIA will issue a warning.

The second documented infraction for either a business with only a food license as well as those with both a food and alcohol permit or license will trigger a seven-day suspension of the business' alcohol permit or license by ABD, as well as a seven-day suspension by DIA of the business' food license.

A third infraction will trigger the revocation of all food and alcohol permits and licenses for the offending business.