Iowa Governor Calls For Bar Closure; Affects Isle Waterloo, Prairie Meadows Casinos

Posted on August 27, 2020 - Last Updated on September 13, 2020

If you’re a patron of Iowa casinos in Black Hawk or Polk counties and like an adult beverage while you try your luck, you will find your next visit to be different.

An order from Gov. Kim Reynolds calls for the closure of bars — which affects casinos — in six counties in response to spikes in coronavirus cases.

Isle of Capri Waterloo and Prairie Meadows casinos are within the counties. Reynolds’ order doesn’t entirely shut down all alcohol sales at those facilities but does restrict such operations.

Details of coronavirus-related closure order

Effective on 5 p.m. CST on Thursday, Aug. 27, all bars, breweries, distilleries, night clubs, taverns and “other establishments that sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on their premises” must close to the public until Sept. 21.

The order only applies to six counties, which are:

  • Black Hawk
  • Dallas
  • Johnson
  • Linn
  • Polk
  • Story

Reynolds cited a recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases in those counties among people ages 19-24. Before Sept. 20 comes and goes, she will reevaluate and determine whether to extend the closure.

The order specifies that establishments that sell beverages and food on a carryout or delivery basis may continue to do so. That includes all the businesses mentioned in the order that net at least half of their monthly revenues from food sales.

The order restricts alcohol sales at those businesses between the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.

The order does specifically mention casinos in the section for “premises.” Casino operators and their guests should pay extra attention to this section.

Specific directives to casinos in those counties

The relevant part of the order reads as follows:

“Bars located in hotels, casinos, movie theaters, or sporting venues, or other establishments that are not required to be closed by this paragraph must still close to the public except as permitted in this paragraph. But this paragraph does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol on a casino floor, inside an individual theater, or in a person’s hotel room, provided that the establishment otherwise complies with all relevant requirements of the public health proclamation issued on August 21, 2020.”

While casino patrons won’t be able to sit down at bars inside Isle Waterloo or Prairie Meadows, they will still be able to purchase alcohol at those casinos on a “carryout” basis. In compliance with the order, alcohol sales will stop at 10 p.m. each night.

Casino patrons staying in hotels can also make use of carryout alcohol sales within the permitted hours. Reynolds’ order “encourages” all patrons to wear face masks properly while making such purchases. In addition, Iowa casino operators mandate those policies.

For the time being, guests at Isle Waterloo and Prairie Meadows can’t enjoy a cold one at the indoor bars and can only buy alcohol within those facilities at certain times of day.

Hopefully, the positivity rates of COVID-19 will decline to a point where Reynolds will lift these restrictions soon.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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