Governor Eric Holcomb says Indiana, with the exception of Marion County, is ready to advance to stage five of the state’s Back on Track reopening plan, allowing restaurants to return to full capacity. But the mask mandate remains in place.

During the weekly press briefing Wednesday, Holcomb said the state has made improvements in curbing the spread of coronavirus. By moving to the final stage, the state has now removed capacity limits at restaurants and large gatherings across the state.

“The numbers continue to track in the right direction,” said Holcomb.

The executive order that goes into effect Saturday removes all the size limitations on social gatherings. It also allows restaurants and bars that offer food service to open at full capacity.  Bar section customers must be seated.

Bars and nightclubs may also open at full capacity, but customers must be seated.

“We really have to underscore for our citizens and businesses to continue to make those adjustments to operate in a safe manner,” said Holcomb.

The order shows if an event includes more than 500 people, organizers must submit a written plan to the local health department.

Still, the state’s executive order requiring Hoosiers to use face coverings will continue through October 17.

“No one wants to wear a face mask. This is different for Americans, for Hoosiers. I get it,” Holcomb said.

The Indiana State Department of Health says the seven-day positivity rate is 3.9%, down from 6.4% when the state’s mask mandate went into effect on July 27.

Holcomb says the parameters the state has followed, such as positivity rates and hospitalization rates, are at levels allowing the state to advance.

“Considering what’s happening around us, we’re heading in the right direction,” said the governor.

He said the state’s color-coded map system, which tracks county-by-county the number of positive cases, is illustrating progress.

“When you look at the map, it really does jump out at you, there are a lot more, by far, counties in blue, which is good.  That’s the color you want to be. It’s further evidence for the jury that we’re moving in the right direction,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb said his staff will continue to monitor progress in the battle against COVID-19, but he warns there is always a possibility the state may need to roll back the advances.

“We measure whether it works or not. We allow the data to drive our decisions,” said Holcomb. “If something changes in the future, we may have to adjust.”

View the full briefing in the video below:


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