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Iowa cracking down on bars, restaurants ignoring 6-foot rule
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Iowa cracking down on bars, restaurants ignoring 6-foot rule

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ANKENY -- State regulators are cracking down on bars and restaurants failing to comply with the social distancing required in Gov. Kim Reynolds’ emergency public health disaster proclamation aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus in Iowa.

Officials with the state Alcoholic Beverages Division on Thursday reported they had conducted 333 inspections and received 46 complaints regarding social distancing and advanced hygiene practices at state-licensed establishments.

The agency reported 49 preliminary investigations, with four cases opened as part of stepped-up enforcement.

The enforcement activities took place between July 30 and Aug. 11 and, in some cases, were coordinated with local law enforcement agencies, according to the update.

Last month, the two agencies that oversee Iowa bars, restaurants and other food establishments — the Alcoholic Beverages Division and state Department of Inspections and Appeals — announced they were taking additional steps to ensure that businesses follow public health guidelines set forth by the proclamation.

The proclamation requires establishments to create at least 6 feet of physical distance between each group or individual dining or drinking. It requires that all patrons have a seat at a table or bar and that an establishment keep patrons from congregating closer than 6 feet.

For first offenses, businesses with an alcohol license will be fined $1,000 by the state Alcoholic Beverages Division, and restaurants will be issued a warning by the state Department of Inspections and Appeals.

A second offense will result in a seven-day suspension of a business’ alcohol or food license; a third offense will result in the business losing that license.

As of Thursday, more than 51,167 Iowans have contracted the coronavirus, and 954 Iowans have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, since the pandemic first arrived in Iowa in mid-March.

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