Governor Eric Holcomb says the current statewide COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place through April 5, after which decisions on venue capacity will be made by local officials. At the same time, the state’s mask mandate will change to a mask advisory, though Holcomb says face coverings will still be required in some settings. Additionally, the governor announced eligibility for vaccinations will be opened up to everyone age 16 and up at the end of March.
The governor outlined the changes during a statewide address Tuesday evening. He touted the improvements the state has made up to this point in the pandemic.
“Our hospital census reached nearly 3,500 COVID patients in early December, but today stands at 600 people. Daily COVID admissions have averaged about 60 people for the past two weeks. Last fall, 44% of our ICU beds were in use for COVID patients; now, it’s 4.6%. Last spring, we completed only a few hundred tests a day; today we can do 50,000+ if needed.”
Holcomb announced he is extending the current state public health emergency and COVID executive order will be renewed for another 30 days in order to allow the state to take action quickly if conditions take a turn for the worse, as well as access hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds.
The statewide COVID restrictions are staying place through April 5, the governor says, in order to accommodate the thousands of out-of-town visitors in Indianapolis for the March Madness and to give Hoosiers with comorbidities more time to get vaccinated.
Local governments will take over authority on restrictions on April 6 and Holcomb says the state will continue to provide weekly county metrics on virus levels.
“Customers in restaurants, bars and nightclubs will no longer be required to be seated,” he said. “Six feet of spacing between tables and other seating will still be recommended, as is spacing between non-household parties. Social distancing is still recommended. All businesses should maintain a COVID response plan that provides COVID safeguards. Hospitals may return to a normal state when scheduling non-emergency procedures and surgeries.”
The statewide mask mandate will transition to a state mask advisory on April 6. The governor says Hoosiers can still expect local governments, businesses and other entities to implement more stringent guidelines, including maintaining mask requirements.
Holcomb says, however, that masks will continue to be required in all state buildings, at COVID vaccination and testing sites, and in K-12 schools for the remainder of the current academic year.
“Our best data is that close to 90% of all schools are operating in person and many of the remainder have hybrid schedules. Please know our departments of education and health will work together to update health guidance in preparation for the next school year. It’s my hope and expectation that our K-12 schools will provide full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 academic year using what they’ve learned and with the additional local, state and federal resources provided.”
The governor urged Hoosiers to isolate if they test positive for COVID and quarantine if they come into close contact with someone who is positive. He also continued to ask people to continue to wash their hands and stay home and if they feel ill.
“As we continue to do these few things, the light at the end of the tunnel becomes brighter and brighter. Buying tickets for March Madness games, planning for all our local fairs and festivals or the Greatest Spectacle in Racing itself tells me that all those life delights I once took for granted are coming back online. It’s up to each and every one of us to do our part to stay on our course.”
You can read a transcript of the governor’s address by clicking here.