The city of Indianapolis and Marion County will Friday begin to ease the stay-at-home restrictions that had been implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indy Mayor Joe Hogsett says the city and county will begin implementing portions of Phase 2 of the state’s Back on Track plan, including increasing the limit for in-person public gatherings and reopening of non-essential retail businesses. The mayor’s stay at home order is set to expire on Friday.
“I know that these delays will be frustrating to some but I assure you that we are making these decisions in an effort to not just reduce the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community now, but also reduce the likelihood that it returns in the future and forces stricter restrictions all over again,” Hogsett said this morning in a virtual news conference.
The limit on in-person public gatherings, including religions services, will be increased from 10 people to 25. Hogsett says drive-up religious services will continue to be permitted, as well as virtual services.
The plan also includes the “qualified reopening” of non-essential retail outlets at 50% capacity, as well as shopping malls with restrictions on capacity and food service.
Beginning May 22, the city and county will also permit in-person dining restaurants, but only in outdoor seating and with social distancing guidelines in place.
The mayor says he understands that placing an emphasis on the importance of outdoor seating capacity will present many challenges for many restaurants.
“We will be providing assistance to individual restaurants in order to secure temporary permitting and permission to expand outdoor seating capacity when it is legal and advisable. In addition, we will be actively working with our major cultural and commercial thoroughfares to expand access to the right-of-way, including perhaps possible road closures to allow greater outdoor seating and service area for restaurants and other businesses.”
Certain businesses, however will be required to remain closed as part of the plan. The mayor says non-essential industrial and manufacturing operations, personal services such as hair and nail salons, and in-person dining inside restaurants will continue to remain restricted.
“These delays are not driven by politics or spite, but by careful analysis of all the data available to us,” said Hogsett. “We believe that if the trajectory continues to stabilize and hopefully decline, the remainder of these Phase 2 re-openings may be possible as soon as June 1st.”
The city is also launching a $5 million grant program to help reimburse small businesses for expenses related to personal protective equipment. The program, being implemented in conjunction with the Indy Chamber, will provide grants of up to $5,000.
Hogsett says target dates for implementing future phases of the state’s Back on Track plan are not being released at this time. He says the city hopes to provide “greater clarity” on the next steps in two weeks.
Hogsett explained the plan during a virtual news conference with reporters