Starting Thursday, the city of Indianapolis and Marion County will lift all COVID-19 capacity restrictions in bars, restaurants, museums and other public venues. Likewise, the Marion County Public Health Department will no longer require non-vaccinated people to wear masks indoors.
During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine said the community has reached safe enough levels to ease restrictions. “Today, looking at the totality of our evidence, we are now in a position to fully reopen Indianapolis,” said Caine. “We were analyzing all of the data points and percentages that helped us determine a safe path forward for our community.”
Caine says while individuals not yet vaccinated are no longer required to wear their masks indoors, it is still highly recommended. She says social distancing requirements are also no longer in effect.
“As a caveat, private business will still have a right here, just as throughout the state, to set their own rules,” added Caine. She says federal regulations will stay in effect for services governed by them. That means travelers should still expect to wear a mask at airports, while using public transportation and in healthcare settings.
According to the health department, 40% of eligible Marion County residents have been vaccinated. “We still have a way to go,” said Caine.
She says raising the vaccination rate in the county will be the central focus moving forward in order to get the maximum number of residents vaccinated.
“Though we are lifting restrictions, we aren’t so naive as to think that the pandemic is over. It is not,” emphasized Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Mortality rates and hospitalization rates are indeed low. But they are not zero. Which means that if you are still choosing to forego the vaccine, you remain at risk. Especially for the more contagious variants.”
Caine says the COVID positivity rate is at 1.9%. She says Marion County has been under the threshold of 5% positivity among residents for over 40 days.
In response to Marion County’s decision. the Indianapolis Colts announced it will host full capacity games at Lucas Oil Stadium for the 2021 season. Normal capacity for Colts’ home games at the stadium is 63,000.
“We can’t wait to reopen the stadium doors to all our fans so they can take this journey with us as we work to bring a Super Bowl title back to Indianapolis,” said Colts Owner & Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay.
Stadium officials says they will continue to be vigilant about keeping fans safe and healthy, but most in-stadium protocols from last season will be relaxed or eliminated. The Colts say they will be releasing specific information regarding any remaining guidelines in the upcoming weeks.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said while restrictions are eased, precaution is still required.