On the day bars, breweries and wineries are set to open at 50% capacity across Iowa, the total number of deaths related to COVID-19 in Iowa surpassed 500, and state health officials reported three new cases in Story County.
Bars, breweries and wineries were given the green light to open at 50% capacity on Thursday following an announcement by Gov. Kim Reynolds on May 20.
Prior to opening day, bars took to Facebook to share plans of opening, including both Outlaws and Paddy’s in Ames.
Mandy Messerly, manager of the Tip Top Lounge in Ames, said the bar moved the pool table in order to create more spacing for customers.
“I’m happy we’re open and glad to be back to work,” Messerly said. “I’ve promoted [for customers to] be responsible and be respectful to everybody in the bar and to my bartenders.”
A lot has changed since Torrent Brewing Company in downtown Ames last had patrons drinking inside of its tap house.
Although Andy McCormick, the owner of Torrent Brewing Company, was excited to reopen his taproom to the community, many changes had to be made, he said.
“We’ve reorganized our taproom to provide the six feet social distancing, and we’re also not allowing groups larger than 10 per table,” McCormick said. “We’ve also gone through some extensive staff training to make sure our customers and staff interact as safely as possible.”
Receiving the news about the bar’s ability to reopen was a relief, it also increased his stress level, he said.
“You know, we want to make sure that we take care of our customers the best that we can, and we had to put in additional work and thought behind how operations will work, but I’m positive that we’re doing everything we can to keep everyone safe,” McCormick said.
There are a lot of things bars will have to do to ensure safety for customers and staff, Della Viti owner Beth DeVries previously told the Tribune.
“I think that it’s on us in the hospitality industry to maintain making sure that people stay in their seated areas, make sure they are six feet apart, and really we aren’t policing, but we need to maintain the safety standards,” DeVries said
After Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered bars, restaurants, fitness centers and many other businesses to be closed effective of March 17, McCormick, like many other business owners had to furlough his entire staff. However, as their doors reopened Thursday night at 4 p.m., each of those employees that were still available to work as well as two new employees were there to serve beer to customers.
And while McCormick understands that not all of his customers will feel comfortable coming back immediately, he said the workers of Torrent will do their best to accommodate concerns.
“Our patrons are our priority, and we have made every effort, and go above and beyond our normal protocol,” McCormick said. “We will try to follow individual customer requests as long as we can oblige them, because we do want people to come in, sit down and enjoy themselves in a safe, clean and comfortable environment.”
In Story County, a total of 99 residents have tested positive for the virus since March 20, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Steve Sullivan, a spokesperson for Mary Greeley Medical Center, confirmed the two additional cases on Thursday, and said they were both tested at a McFarland Clinic location within the county, however he did not know any information on the third individual.
Despite Story County nearing 100 positive cases, 72 of the individuals who have tested positive have fully recovered, according to the state health department.
Throughout the county 2,313 residents have been tested, but only 4.2% of those tested have tested positive for the virus.
On Thursday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced 246 new cases throughout the state as well as 15 additional deaths during her daily press conference.
Since the novel coronavirus was first reported in the state in March, 18,524 Iowans have been diagnosed with the virus which has led to the deaths of 503 individuals.