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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa restaurants navigate reopening guidelines

Table 128 won't be able to reopen this week because they're located in Polk County, but the restaurant doesn't know if they'll even be ready by May 15.

CLIVE, Iowa — Starting Friday, restaurants in 77 of Iowa's 99 counties will have the option to reopen their doors to the public.

While it's a hopeful sign of things getting back to normal, there is still caution.

Table 128 isn't in that batch of counties. The Clive restaurant won't be able to open their doors until at least May 15 since Polk County is still under coronavirus restrictions.

Credit: WOI
22 Iowa counties will ease coronavirus-related restrictions starting Friday, May 15

However, owner Sarah Pritchard still has to navigate the options for when they can finally reopen.

"If a restaurant is open and the public feels comfortable going to a restaurant, I suppose they're going to make that choice," Pritchard said, "As an operator and a consumer, I'm not quite sure I'm ready for that in particular."

Restaurants reopening this weekend will have some difficulties with the new guidelines developed from Iowa officials. 

For example, restaurants can only allow 50% their normal capacity. From a business sense, that could be costly.

Pritchard said, "Most of us couldn't operate at a 50% capacity profitably." 

Another blow to restaurants- since they would technically be reopened, they wouldn't receive federal aid. Not being able to pay rent or employees isn't feasible.

"If people are choosing to spend their dollars in a restaurant and going away from the carry-out model or supporting restaurants in that way, then we might as well close those restaurants today or not re-open," Pritchard said.

"It's not a sustainable model for any of us," she said.

Either way, restaurants have to make that decision for themselves.

"Every worry is going to be the same moving forward, and we're just taking it day by day, week by week."  

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