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On September 2, 2020, Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart signed a proclamation mandating the use of face coverings in public settings. Read the full proclamation.

What You Need to Know About the Face Covering Mandate

When does the face covering mandate start and end?
The mandate goes into effect on Wednesday, September 2, 2020. The proclamation allows the Mayor to end the face covering mandate at his discretion.

Why is this being implemented now?
Unfortunately, we have continued to see an increase of cases throughout Iowa including neighboring counties Johnson and Blackhawk, making a mask mandate more critical than ever to slow the spread in our community.

The CDC and the Iowa Board of Medicine have determined that face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the virus, particularly when used universally within communities. The Iowa Board of Medicine issued a face mask advisory on August 24, 2020, noting that masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.

A requirement of face coverings is essential to reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19, and necessary to protect the health, welfare and safety of residents and visitors.

When are masks required?

  • When outside one’s residence or dwelling place and unable to stay at least six (6) feet away from other persons
  • When inside any indoor public settings or place of public accommodations as defined in the Cedar Rapids Municipal Code, including Chapter 69, and also including without limitation all retail stores, restaurants, bars, taverns and other accommodations
  • 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
  • When using public transportation or private car service (including taxis, ride share, or carpooling)

Who is exempt from the mandate?

  • Persons under 2 years of age
  • Any person who has trouble breathing, is currently on oxygen therapy or on a ventilator
  • Any unconscious or incapacitated person or any person who is otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance
  • Any person who has been told in writing by a medical, legal, or behavioral health professional not to wear face coverings when that writing is carried on the person not using an otherwise required face covering unless such inquiry is prohibited by Federal or State law
  • Any person actively engaged in a public safety role, including but not limited to law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel
  • Any person traveling in a personal vehicle alone or with members of the same household
  • Any person who is alone or in the presence of only members of the same household
  • Any person exercising at moderate or high intensity (e.g. jogging or biking)
  • Any person seated at a food establishment when actually engaged in the process of eating or drinking
  • Any person actually obtaining a service that would require temporary removal of the persons face covering (e.g. dental, orthodontic or medical services)
  • Any person for whom a face covering would be violative of a sincerely held religious belief or doctrine
  • When Federal or State law prohibits wearing a face covering or requires the removal of the face covering

Does the City have authority to implement a mask mandate?
Article III, Section 38A of the Iowa Constitution grants municipalities the power to determine their local affairs and government not inconsistent with the laws of the general assembly. Chapter 364 of the Iowa Code reaffirms the constitutional grant of home rule authority to a municipality “to exercise any power and perform any function it deems appropriate to protect and preserve the rights, privileges and property of the city or its residents, and improve the peace, safety, health, welfare and convenience of its residents.” A “city may exercise its general powers subject only to limitations expressly imposed by a state or city law,” and the exercise of a city power “is not inconsistent with a state law unless it is irreconcilable with the state law.” Iowa Code section 364.2(2) and (3); and a city may set standards “more stringent than those imposed by state law, unless a state law provides otherwise.” Iowa Code Section 364.3(a); City of Des Moines v. Gruen, 457 N.W.2d 340, 343 (Iowa 1990); Bryan v. City of Des Moines, 261 N.W.2d 685, 687 (Iowa 1978).

Chief among the powers of local government is the power to promote and protect the health and safety of its residents, especially during a time when public health is in danger. Iowa Code Section 372.14(2) and the Cedar Rapids Municipal Code grant the Mayor powers in emergency circumstances when public danger exists to take extraordinary steps to protect the public health and safety.

How will the mask mandate be enforced?
Members of the Cedar Rapids Police Department or any other officer who may be charged with the enforcement of the Proclamation will use education and information to bring about compliance. As a last resort, any violation of this proclamation shall constitute a misdemeanor or municipal infraction and may be punished as provided by the Cedar Rapids Municipal Code.

How does the mandate impact businesses?
Businesses that are open to the public must require customers to wear a face covering. All businesses must post signs at entrance(s) instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside.

Business Signage for display

What is considered a "public setting?"
A public place is an indoor or outdoor area, whether privately or publicly owned, to which the public have access. It is not a public setting when used exclusively by one or more individuals for a private gathering or other personal purpose.

What are alternative methods of communication when masks interfere with the ability to effectively communicate with people who are hearing impaired?

People who are deaf or hard of hearing may find masks hinder their ability to effectively communicate with others due to the reduced volume and clarity of speech as well as the inability to read lips. The ADA requires that title II entities (State and local governments) and title III entities (businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public) communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities. The goal is to ensure that communication with people with these disabilities is equally effective as communication with people without disabilities.

Below are a few examples of alternative communication methods:

  • Provide employees with face masks with clear plastic shielding to make the mouth visible
  • Provide small pads of paper and pens to write notes
  • Use a small dry-erase board for interactive conversations
  • Use mobile devices to text or use voice-to-text programs on a smart phone or tablet
  • Print instructions and descriptions and use charts with graphics for visual communicators
  • Provide accessible remote (on-line, video, telephonic, and mail) service, whenever reasonable and equally effective
  • Provide auxiliary aids and services for lengthier interactions

Covered entities may require reasonable advance notice from people requesting aids or services, based on the length of time needed to acquire the aid or service.


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