"On December 2, the Board made that recommendation mandatory: as of noon that day, the wearing of face masks was required in all public places such as theaters and even college classrooms, but were not required in streetcars, office buildings, or stores and shops. Interestingly, theater and movie house operators were willing to close to bring about a quicker end to the epidemic, but were asked by the Board of Health to remain open. “We think a certain amount of amusement is necessary,” commented Commissioner of Public Safety Ben Wolgar.
"The mask order did not last long. Theatergoers were unhappy that they had to wear masks while watching stage performances or movies, and theater owners were unhappy that they had to enforce the order in their establishments. Box office receipts fell drastically. At the Garden Theater, for example, six hundred patrons attended the December 2 matinee show, before the mask order went into effect; only two hundred attended the evening performance. Across the city, theaters and movie houses reported half of the usual attendance. Many Des Moines residents, it seemed, so disliked wearing flu masks that they preferred to remain at home rather than to don one. Bending to the will of the people and business interests, and with the support of physicians who (correctly) argued that gauze masks did little to prevent the spread of influenza, the Board of Health revoked the order on December 4 and once again made the wearing of flu masks voluntary."
One of the theatres that remained open was the little Amuz-U, at east 5th and Locust: proprietor Rudy Elman's attempt at a solution was to seat people in alternate rows, so as to bring at least a little distance between patrons. The loss of business must not have been too hard on Elman, as this tiny single-screen remained open until 1953.