Need for Masks, Smaller Outdoor Gatherings: Mayor Amends Emergency COVID Proclamation

Update: Mayor Cownie removed the mask mandate for Des Moines on Friday, May 14, 2021. Learn More


DES MOINES, IOWA – Friday, July 31, 2020 – The increased community spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Polk County prompted Mayor Frank Cownie today to amend his emergency proclamation regarding outdoor gatherings on City property. Polk County has the most positive cases of COVID-19 in Iowa with 9,448 reported today and 201 deaths.  

Effective immediately for new leases or permits, "an outdoor social, community, recreational, leisure or sporting gathering or event" that utilizes City streets and right-of-way is limited to 250 people. This would include but is not limited to a parade, festival, rally, farmers’ market, road race or neighborhood block party. Events fewer than 250 people will still be required to meet CDC guidelines and have approval from the City Manager. 

"We are at a crucial moment in our battle against COVID-19. This pandemic and the risks it brings will not simply dissipate with time – it doesn’t care if we want to return to our normal lives," Cownie said. "It’s clear that we must be more diligent and disciplined than ever to combat the most challenging medical emergency in our lives."

In his proclamation today, Mayor Cownie "strongly and urgently encouraged all persons in the City of Des Moines to wear a face covering such as a cloth mask, surgical mask, plastic shield or similar covering that covers their nose and mouth when in a public place in all of the following circumstances:"

  1. When outside one’s residence or dwelling place and unable to stay at least six (6) feet away from other persons;
  2. When inside any indoor public settings or place of public accommodations as defined in Chapter 62, including without limitation all retail stores, restaurants, bars, taverns and other accommodations;
  3. When in any other public settings that are not one’s residence or dwelling place with persons who do not live in the same residence or dwelling place;
  4. When using public transportation or private car service (including taxis, ride share or carpooling)

Scientific studies have shown that face coverings over the mouth and nose significantly reduce the spread of the coronavirus.  To promote mask wearing in Des Moines, Mayor Cownie’s proclamation directs the City Manager to purchase and distribute face coverings to members of the public not wearing them. Volunteers, nonprofit groups and some City employees will distribute those face coverings starting next week. 

“Wear a mask – it’s the best way to keep businesses open, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives,” Cownie added. “We are the solution to this problem.” 

Al Setka
Communications Manager, City Manager’s Office
(515) 283-4057

About the City of Des Moines
The City of Des Moines: Iowa’s capital city and local government servicing more than 217,000 residents, 51+ neighborhoods, over 4,000 acres of parkland and 81 miles of trails. The City of Des Moines stands to be a financially strong city with exceptional city services, fostering an involved community in a customer friendly atmosphere. Visit DSM.cityFacebook and Twitter for more information.