Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday said he would issue an executive order to keep the state in Stage 4.5 of its pandemic recovery plan through Sept. 25.
The extension includes the requirement for Hoosiers to wear face coverings in public indoor settings and outdoors when social-distancing cannot be followed.
Holcomb will be extending Stage 4.5 for the third time. He first announced Stage 4.5 of the Back on Track plan on July 1. It was initially supposed to cover the period from July 4-17, but the governor on July 15 extended the stage for at least another two weeks. On July 29, he announced he would extend it again, until Aug. 27.
Stage 4.5 was not part of the original Back on Track plan but was implemented when officials became wary of moving from Stage 4 to Stage 5, representing full recovery with no restrictions on business and social behavior.
Holcomb said the additional extension of Stage 4.5 was needed because Indiana’s COVID-19 testing-positivity rate and hospitalizations remain too high.
The statewide testing-positivity rate rose from 4.4% on June 16 to 7.5% on July 27 as business and social gathering restrictions were eased. Since then, with a statewide mask mandate in effect, the rate has slipped back down to 6.6%. State health officials would like to see that rate fall below 5%.
Indiana counted 987 COVID-19 patients hospitals on Monday, up from 595 on June 26.
Local governments are allowed to issue more stringent recovery plans.
Violating the mask order has carried no penalties. It directs face covering use by anyone ages 8 and older in any indoor public or business areas and at outdoor public spaces when sufficient distancing can’t be maintained. It also requires masks in schools for grades 3 and above by students, teachers and other employees.
Here is the ongoing Stage 4.5 plan, according to the state:
– Retailers and shopping malls may operate at full capacity under social-distancing guidelines.
– Social gatherings, following the CDC’s social distancing guidelines, will be limited to up to 250 people. This limit applies to wedding receptions, parties, and other events where people are in close physical contact for extended periods of time, particularly indoors. But “special or seasonal events” such as summer concerts, outdoor movies showings, fairs, festivals, carnivals, parades, graduation ceremonies, conventions, fundraisers, sport or racing competitions, outdoor shows or other outdoor entertainment events, are allowed to have more than 250 people in attendance if a safety plan has been approved by local health officials in advance.
– Dining room food service may continue operations at up to 75% capacity as long as social distancing is observed. Bar seating in restaurants may operate at 50% capacity. Bars and nightclubs may operate at 50% capacity as long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines.
– Cultural, entertainment and tourism sites may operate at 50% capacity.
– Movie theaters, bowling alleys and similar facilities may operate at 50% capacity.
—Gyms, fitness centers and other workout facilities may operate with restrictions.
—Personal services, such as hair and nail salons, may operate with restrictions.
– Amusement parks, water parks and similar facilities may operate at 50% capacity. Reservations are encouraged to limit the number of customers at any one time.
– Raceways may operate at 50% grandstand capacity.
– Fairs, festivals and other similar outdoor events may open. Pari-mutuel horse racing and county and state fair racing may begin with 50% spectator capacity. Youth overnight camps may open.
This story will be updated.