Indianapolis to continue mask mandate, capacity restrictions

The city of Indianapolis will keep in place its mask mandate and other existing restrictions tied to the pandemic indefinitely, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Thursday morning.

Hogsett’s proclamation followed Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s announcement on Tuesday that he would lift similar statewide restrictions in early April.

Hogsett said Thursday he plans to take a “common sense approach” to determining when the city will lift its restrictions through continued conversations with the Marion County Department of Public Health.

We will not repeal our mask mandate or our capacity restrictions,” he said. “We will continue to exercise the local authority granted to us by the state to keep Indianapolis on the right track.”

Marion County restaurants and many other businesses are restricted to 75% indoor capacity, to allow for social distancing.

On Tuesday, Holcomb said he will allow all statewide COVID-19 restrictions, including the mask mandate and capacity restrictions, to expire after April 5. He will renew the public health emergency order—set to expire April 1—for another 30 days, because that could impact federal funding.

However, he allowed local governments to determine themselves when to alter their own restrictions.

“I personally am grateful to the governor for giving us the flexibility to address the risks that are unique to our particular community,” Hogsett said. “I’m sensitive to the fact that the governor and his decision making has to take into consideration 92 counties.”

Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine said multiple benchmarks must be met before the department can advise Hogsett to lift restrictions and the mask requirement, including herd immunity, three-week positivity rates of less than 3%, and 35 cases per day or fewer for at least two weeks.

She said she’s also closely following variant strains that could disrupt vaccination efforts.

“I need those three metrics … for us to return to normal activities,” she said. “We’re trying to get ahead of this really quickly. Those are the major factors.”

Currently, Marion County has about 80 to 90 cases per day, on average, with a positivity rate below 5% for the past month. It’s averaging about one death per day.

Herd immunity is expected once 70% to 80% of the general population is inoculated; so far, the best-performing age group is those over 70, with just under 60% of those county residents fully vaccinated.

“We are near the end of the race—we can see the finish line,” Caine said. “But we have not yet crossed it. Now is the time to dig deep and sprint to the finish.”

To date, Marion County has not rendered consequences for individuals who don’t comply with mask orders, and IMPD has not been tasked with policing the matter.

Some businesses, including two over the weekend, have been cited and fined—and even temporarily shut down—because of capacity violations.

Caine said the goal is that all businesses operate safely within the existing public health orders, but the department isn’t afraid of “taking enforcement actions when absolutely necessary.”

As part of its efforts to increase vaccinations throughout Marion County, the city is spending $1 million to fund projects and messaging in local neighborhoods that have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic. This includes efforts to fund community-based organizations that hope to provide messaging and resources tied to wellness and recovery from the pandemic.

“We need to use those trusted community leaders … to address people in their communities, which I think will make a huge difference in terms of increasing the number of people, increasing vaccine confidence in the people we need to reach,” Caine said. “It is clear, people have to make their personal choice, but they have to have good information in order to make those choices.”

Additionally, local officials expect that fans will be permitted at this year’s Indianapolis 500, after the event ran without spectators in 2020.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to have fans at the Indy 500 in May, but it may be very difficult for us to say what that capacity is right now,” Caine said. “We’re much further ahead in the game compared to last year, when we were at a similar situation. So, we’re being … very optimistic.”

Added Caine: “I believe we’ll have fans at the Indy 500.”

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49 thoughts on “Indianapolis to continue mask mandate, capacity restrictions

  1. Hogsett continues to be completely disconnected with his city. No one is wearing masks as it is already. If there is one final push to drive business and consumers out of Indianapolis, count on Mayor Hogsett to pull out all the stops. One last push to Carmel, Avon, Fishers, and Greenwood for the already beleaguered Indy restaurants and retailers. It is truly incredible how far away from reality this mayor is.

    1. I’m not sure where you live but I see PLENTY of people wearing masks. To say NO ONE is wearing a mask is a bit of a stretch.

    2. Ryan, you are spot on. It would be easy to assign ignorance to this inept mayor but I believe that he knows exactly what he is doing. The tourney and the trickle of trade shows and conventions would have been a great opportunity to re-ignite the city but this pos is hell-bent on keeping his thumb on the city. “Far away from reality” is an understatement. Elections have consequences and the city is paying an enormous price. The sad thing is that the sheeple who voted this moron into office twice would do it again, even those who have been decimated by his horrible decisions. “Believe the science” is crap. This has nothing to do with science.

    3. I must say that I see Almost 100% compliance with people wearing masks in Indy and the metro area in general. However I have been spending my money in Hendricks County due to his capacity restrictions and other things.

    4. Of course he knows what he is doing. He has an Indy 500 he is trying to host. Lifting restrictions too soon jeopardizes that.

    5. Ryan H, you seem to forget that consumers disappeared from all of the stores and restaurants before anybody ever issued a mask or stay at home order. The few days before the ANY orders were issued in Indiana, everybody hunkered down and the streets were deserted. Do you know why? When people are afraid, they adjust their behavior and they did it without any orders. A 1 in 10 chance of hospitalizing yourself or a family member by eating in a crowded restaurant should make you re-evaluate selfish behavior. A 1-2% chance you will kill yourself or a family member by eating in a crowed restaurant should make you re-evaluate your selfish behavior.

      Obviously that risk goes way down once enough people are vaccinated, but until we all get together and achieve that goal, we should respect and care about our friends, family and neighbors.

      Science seems to be on the side of the mayor, and if anything the idiots in the state legislator seem to by trying force the governors hand, but that said, there are 92 counties in the state and not all of them may need to be treated the same.

      If you choose to do business outside of Indianapolis, please stay away from my friends, family, and co-workers because you are now a potential health treat.

    6. The science is pretty clear – the right time to lift restrictions is 6-8 weeks after everyone has the chance and choice to get vaccinated, because that’s roughly when protection would kick in.

      In Indiana, that date is March 31st. So, opening things up for Memorial Day weekend makes perfect sense. And if we’re not open by then, I’ll be among those complaining about things not being open. After that point, well if you choose not to get the vaccine because you’ve been misinformed, that’s on you.

      Opening things up April 6th is dumb and premature, just as opening things up this fall for political reasons was also dumb and premature.

    7. I myself choose not to get COVID from idiots who won’t listen to and follow science. Therefore I have stayed out of venues where that may happen. And no vendor/contractor/business person/friend enters my home unmasked. Guess what? I have not gotten COVID and I have saved a lot of money that some businesses could probably have used. If you want businesses to thrive, follow the rules for a short time so that people who would be out and about feel safe. One person alone can’t support all the businesses but can and do drive other customers away by flaunting science, common sense, and public safety. You only need policing when you refuse to police yourself.

    1. Think of the big picture. Marion County is doing everything they can to drive down the rate so restrictions will be lifted May 26th for the Indy 500. Lifting restrictions too soon jeopardizes that.

    1. Perhaps they were all vaccinated. CDC rules: vaccinated people can mingle with other vaccinated people. I bet thy were masked coming and going.

  2. I’m pretty sure that most Indianapolis residents don’t mind wearing a mask. Sure, it’s not convenient but luckily most of us don’t prioritize our own comfort over the safety of others. Not to mention, no one in downtown Indy is going to drive to Avon/Carmel/Greenwood for a restaurant. I’ll take a mask over a drive outside of the 465-loop.

    1. You are wrong – signed a Marion county resident as an adult for 40 years.

      My business will be in Carmel and Hamilton County. The downtown and other business continue to suffer as well as the residents .

    2. Jeffrey I have been a Marion County resident for 25 years and the past year the majority of my money has now been spent outside of Marion County.

  3. I sure hope that the mayor wears his mask when he is out repairing all the potholes that populate the city roadways. His work on potholes could be the singular positive development he could cite as he reflects on his contribution to life in Indianapolis. His handling of the other issues over the past 12 months could not be viewed so charitably

    1. He sure as heck doesn’t wear them indoors at public places like Lucas Oil Stadium – signed maskless supreme leader Hogsett spotter.

  4. As many people here note, our municipal and state executives have such unfettered access to the by-the-minute reports from our top-notch experts in Washington and Atlanta (CDC), as well as all those big-brained people at the WHO. Given what they know, why can they routinely be seen congregating in close quarters with friends at social events and not wearing masks? It raises a number of questions:
    – What are they not telling us about why they are exempt from the rules they impose on us? Does science have loopholes for the elite?
    – Why do they think they are above the laws they seek to enforce?
    – Why do they continue to bang on about “safety”, when homicide rates are at record highs, people are going untreated for other cancer and other illnesses, the mass unemployment has cause widespread social alienation, suicides among young people are on the rise…yet they continue to tell us this is all about “keeping us safe”, and then act indignant when so many of us no longer trust them?

    1. Why do they congregate indoors? Probably because they got vaccinated first and once you’re vaccinated, you can do things like congregate indoors, in close quarters, and it’s OK. If you’d actually have read any the information from those big brained people, you’d know that.

      For someone who portrays themselves as a smart person, it’s almost as though you choose to be willfully ignorant.

    2. There’s always some rationalization, isn’t there, Mary? You can’t ever admit that your leaders are hypocrites and refuse to abide by the laws that they expect to impose upon the peasantry.

    3. Not that any reasonable person takes Doctuh Fauci seriously anymore, but he has equivocated repeatedly on whether vaccinated people can or cannot–or can or cannot–or can or cannot–ignore social distancing and masking rules.

      Just 3-4 weeks ago you were still banging on about how no reasonable person should be eating at restaurants, indoors or out. What’s changed since then? The vaccines started rolling out in December. Did they reach the safety threshold because Joe B says so? If so, congratulations, you’re showing the exact same level of defensible logic that our policymakers are showing. Which is why we have no respect for them. Life doesn’t happen top-down, as much as authoritarians on the left would like to delude themselves into think so. But then, this IS a religion for them–and to criticize Fauci is like rejecting their cult leader. You’re far more likely to face backlash from the Left than you would if you criticize the Orange Buffoon among people on the Right (many of whom criticized him routinely–case in point). The Left’s cultist views are finally getting challenged in a big way and they pretend it’s “science”–this from the party that embraces “body positivity” and “there are an almost unlimited number of genders”. Yup. Science. It’s their version of creationism.

      Make sure and use smaller words for me next time, Joe. “The science is clear” is just way too complicated for me. It’s the phrase that that harpie up there running Michigan keeps stating, I think…but her voice is at an excessively high frequency and I just can’t make sense of those sine waves. Maybe it’s my tinnitus. Maybe I’m just not smart enough. Oh well.

    4. I’m glad you’ve accepted your shortcomings. I mean, we all have them. For instance, I have a very low tolerance for cults and those sucked into their thinking. I can’t help but point out how foolish they are, and I’m not very polite about it. And I have even less tolerance for those who construct their arguments based on misrepresenting others positions.

      Science changes and evolves. That’s not equivocation – it’s part and parcel of science, and anyone with trusting tells you that up front. If you choose to state otherwise, well, that’s willful misrepresentation on your part. Make sure you tell your doctor the next time you’re in there that you would prefer some leeches to treat whatever ails you… those newfangled antibiotics can’t be trusted.

      What’s changed since December is clear – people are actually getting vaccinated and it’s had time to take effect. You’re vaccinated and it’s taken effect? Knock yourself out, enjoy that dinner out. I’ve seen lots of seniors out dining as we get carry out – looks like they are enjoying themselves. We will be at St. Elmo’s dining indoors very quickly after our second shot has taken effect – the date is circled.

      Go ahead and quote where I said it’s not appropriate to eat outdoors. I’ll wait. I ate outdoors this week since it was pleasant enough, and will do the same on the rare occasions it is nice enough.

      It’s pretty clear – the right time to lift restrictions is right around Memorial Day. At that point, the public at large has had the chance to get vaccinated and have the shot kick in. If we have restrictions after that point, it’s going to have to be explained to me why because at that point, the government has reached its limit as far as what they can do for folks. I know, this isn’t convenient for you since you think you’ve got me placed into one of your little thought buckets. Tough.

      After that point, if you choose to forgo the vaccine and get sick, maybe it should be on all those rugged individualists. Maybe those folks who want to open up now, those folks who refuse the vaccine because they’ve done their research and think they’re the smartest guy in the room, should really put some skin in the game and sign notarized documents that they will get over their “bad flu” by themselves – no antibodies, no ICU’s, none of it. Make a choice, live with the consequences, right?

  5. I’m double vaccinated. I still keep my mask with me to wear when it’s required. I’m OK with masks. What really burns me is all of the weird touch restrictions put on by the Health Department. More than 1 year into this thing and we know lots more than in the beginning. One of those things is that transfer of the virus by touch is very rare.

  6. To all the “Marion County residents” who say they only go out to eat in the suburbs, I’ve got a question. Why would you drive out to the suburbs because restaurants have a 75% capacity limit? That makes no sense unless every restaurant in Indianapolis has a line out the door, which they do not. All that you’re doing is hurting your own neighborhoods and the businesses occupying them. How does that punish the mayor? Also, I’d expect to see the Hamilton county cities continue the mask mandates like Marion County. If they don’t, I expect to see a continued shift to the Democrats up there in the next election. Actually, I expect to continue seeing that shift no matter what happens.

  7. I usually despise the “Won’t Someone Think of the Children?!” card being played… But very soon the only innocent people to catch this disease will be the CHILDREN who don’t get a choice in this matter since there’s no vaccine for them yet, and those adults who can’t take a vaccine due to religious beliefs or rare health complications. But sure, throw off your mask – those kids DESERVE IT.

    1. Thank you thinking of the children. The vaccine is now being tested on ages 12-16. After that it will probably be 6-12. Wear the masks and take precautions until it’s safe for them. It’s not too much to ask for to keep children safe. Kids can’t choose whether they will be safe or in danger. They depend on the good intentions of the community and those around them.

    2. Thankfully, children’s death rate is so astonishingly low that “think of the children” is indeed meaningless, because those resources should be harnessed to things that DO impact children, like leukemia variants or, frankly, further research on autism. (And no, I’m not trying to imply a correlation between vaccines and autism.)

      Many private schools never fully closed over the last year. Many people with $$$, fed up with the corrupt teachers’ unions (and their desperate excuses not to go to work) started moving their kids from even the high performing public schools to the private schools. Yeah, some of these schools had COVID outbreaks. They made it through and the kids are fine.

      You should know this, but perhaps you’ve been too propagandized? Then again, if you think a face diaper is what’s saving kids, it’s probably moot a point.

    3. Post links about Indiana schools that shut down and refused to reopen due to the teachers unions.

    1. He’s delusional for believing in facts and trying to prevent the spread of a deadly disease? I think you need a mirror to figure out what delusional looks like.

    2. Hogsett and Wesley H embrace a shared collective delusion, as do many, many others. The same delusion that has allowed us to think that open heroin use and letting people defecate on the sidewalk is “compassionate”. They are utterly unwilling to consider that even a shred of their ideology might not hold up to scrutiny. This IS a religion for them.

  8. I am proud of Mayor Hogsett and the Marion County Health Department for doing their job persistently and well amidst the loud objectors who are doing nothing, not even their own small part, to get the community through this pandemic.

    1. You’re a shill for collectivism and a person who prides herself in accepting lies because those are what are necessary to project collectivism. Such people are painfully prevalent in urban areas–but then, collectivism isn’t entirely bad–but it does seem to perpetuate willful self-delusion, and the willfully self-deluded tend to need to announce this as a point of pride and virtue.

      I call out hypocrisy from ineffectual leaders like Hogsett. But that’s just me. I’m a scummy selfish person, obviously. What’s YOUR reason, Mary, for not holding Hogsett, Newsom, Whitmer, Murphy, Cuomo, or all the other leaders accountable (all Democrat, since they’re the ones seeking the most stringent regulations), since they’re unwilling to abide by the same laws that they expect us serfs to follow? What makes them so special? Please use small words so I understand. And be sure to scold me for being a bad person–I just don’t hear it enough and it’s music to my ears.

    2. collectivism:

      n. The principles or system of ownership and control of the means of production and distribution by the people collectively, usually under the supervision of a government.
      n. The socialistic theory or principle of centralization of all directive social and industrial power, especially of control of the means of production, in the people collectively, or the state: the opposite of individualism.
      n. The doctrine that land and capital should be owned by society collectively or as a whole; communism.

      Now that I’ve pointed out you don’t understand collectivism, tell me more about how only Democratic politicians don’t follow the same laws they expect citizens to follow. Funny how you tell us that all politicians are awful, but then slip up and swallow your whistle on the Republicans when it’s convenient. Either they’re all awful or they’re not, be consistent.

  9. “Rather than exhaust your energy in bickering over where
    you disagree, align your effort with where you do agree and
    create wins, whether it’s in our city, state or nation,”

  10. American D. keep it coming.

    I thought I was the only one on IBJ calling out the hypocrisy!

    And as I’ve stated countless times, all politicians should be fired at 8 years or less. All sides…they want this conflict and chaos to continue…it’s their job security.

    Lastly, Fauci is about as scientific as my 7 month old in critical thinking.

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