The city of Indianapolis and Marion County will proceed to stage four of the state’s Back on Track reopening plan, but it will come a week later than the rest of the state.
Mayor Joe Hogsett said Thursday Indy and the county will hit the next phase on June 19.
“We remain a week behind to allow businesses to have time to adjust for the new guidelines,” said Hogsett. “So restaurants have time, an entire week, to arrange for seating capacities.”
Governor Eric Holcomb’s executive order allows all 92 counties to advance, effective Friday, but it also allows local governments to impose more restrictive guidelines.
“Our decision is driven by data, driven by the science,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department.
In this next phase, gatherings can include groups of up to 250 people, restaurants can open to 75% capacity and stores can open to full capacity.
But high-risk individuals, some over people over the age the 65, are still encouraged to stay home, wear masks and practice social distancing.
Stage four also allows professional business offices to fully reopen.
Bars, nightclubs, theaters, and museums remain at 50% capacity. The city plan allows salons, spas, and tattoo parlors to continue to operate by appointment only, with mandatory face coverings for employees and patrons. Playgrounds must remain closed.
Worship services in Marion County may have 75% capacity.
The governor’s office says as the state lifts restrictions and more people return to work, visit a store or restaurant, and participate in more activities, the number of COVID-19 cases will increase.
“As we advance to stage four and further reopen Indiana for business, we’ll continue to monitor our progress and make data-informed decisions,” said Holcomb.
The state has set four parameters, such as hospitalization rates and the availability of hospital beds, to help guide the reopening plan.
“If these principles cannot be met, all or portions of the state may need to pause on moving forward or may need to return to an earlier phase,’ said Holcomb.
Dr. Caine was asked whether she had concerns about protestors who took part in demonstrations in downtown Indy and other communities of getting infected by COVID-19, since many were not wearing masks.
“We have to be cautious. When you have people protesting, they are yelling, shouting or singing so there’s a higher risk for respiratory droplets,” said Caine. “But since it’s outdoors, that will counteract the risk to people not wearing masks.”
The governor’s office says if health indicators remain positive, the state will move to stage 5 in early July. Hogsett said based on the current calculations, he would expect the city to enter the final phase in the middle part of July.
“Whether we’ll be ready to move into the next phase, will be driven by the data,” said Hogsett.
Click here to learn more about the state’s Back on Track plan.
Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine says expanded testing in vulnerable populations is paying off.