Should Iowa Fine Establishments That Don’t Follow COVID Guidelines?
The COVID-19 pandemic didn't go away in the summer. It got worse. It ramped up right around the time that A). summer began and B). bars/restaurants re-opened albeit with COVID restrictions put in place by their respective state or county guidelines. Here in Iowa, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Department (ABD) states that the rules for dealing with (and avoiding spread) include required social distancing and 'other social distancing, hygiene, and public health measures'. Similar rules were put in place for our neighbors to the north, Minnesota. However, like Iowa, they've seen huge coronavirus increases since re-opening food/drink establishments. Their response? Warn 'em... fine 'em... or even revoke their license.
KARE 11 reports the state set out stern warning letters to 14 establishments over alleged COVID-19 violations, and called them out on their website by name. In Minnesota, the governor signed an executive order allowing this to be done. The surveillance checked for employees violating mask requirements, failing to follow proper to social distancing (having the tables less than six feet apart), and establishments that were serving at more than the 50% capacity rule allows.
If these establishments don't fix their errors, they will be fined and could lose the right to sell liquor. So, should Iowa adopt such a model, do you think? My opinion... NO. To me, this is a silly, backwards approach. We're in the middle of a pandemic that could last another year. Our local businesses have suffered enough. Certainly these establishments should have to comply. Absolutely. But a fine or revocation? Here's an idea, put them on blast, which they have; and if they don't shape up, make them close for a week. After that, another violation, two weeks... Three, four etc. Isn't that punishment enough? Luckily, reports indicate the state is willing to be patient with these bars/restaurants that were warned, and want to see them succeed. Hey, they get some juicy tax money from booze sales so, I should assume so...