Due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, Marion County will implement new pandemic-related restrictions on Friday, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Thursday.
The restrictions will prevent in-person pre-K-12 class instruction at schools until at least Aug. 5 and limit shopping mall and retail-store capacity to 75%.
Beginning Monday, they will limit social gatherings, including wedding receptions, banquets, club meetings and any event where people come together to socialize other than religious services, to 50 people. Indoor religious ceremonies including funerals can operate at up to 50% capacity, and outdoor services can continue without capacity restrictions as long as social distancing is observed.
Among other changes:
– Bars and nightclubs will close through at least Aug. 12.
– Restaurant dining rooms will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity, and all restaurants must close between midnight and 5 a.m. Bar seating at restaurants will be closed.
– Personal services such as hair salons and nail parlors will operate by appointment only.
– Gyms, fitness centesr and yoga and dance studios will be allowed to operate at 25% capacity.
– Tourism, cultural, entertainment and sports venues must reduce capacity to 25% of venue occupancy.
– Nursing homes must remain closed to indoor visitors.
The mask mandate that went into effect July 9 stands and is now bolstered by a statewide mask mandate that takes effect Monday.
The city is not currently implementing any travel restrictions but recommends that residents who travel to states or nations with heightened rates of infection should self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning to the city.
Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department, said the restrictions are returning in order to “get ahead of this” and prevent any needless hospitalizations or deaths.
“We’re doing some good things, but it is not enough,” she said. “The data we are seeing in Marion County does not paint the same picture it did several weeks ago.”
Since July 4, the number of new COVID-19 cases, the test-positivity rate and emergency room visits with COVID-19 symptoms have been rising.
And the age demographics are shifting, with 55% of cases now occurring in those 40 and under.
Caine said the number of new cases in a day hit its lowest point June 24 at 45, but the average is now 100 new cases a day.
Meanwhile, the number of hospitalizations and deaths has been flat or dropped.
Caine said since the July 9 mask mandate went into effect, the department has received 249 complaints about businesses or individuals not wearing masks. More than half of them—141—were complaints about restaurants and bars where patrons were not masked and not social distancing, she said.
Caine said while she doesn’t want to put new restrictions in place, she has no choice but to take “aggressive actions” to save people’s lives.
“Despite the sacrifices many of us have made, there are just too many of us willing to risk people’s lives,” she said.
Hogsett said residents, particularly younger ones, must do better for their city, especially if they want bars and clubs to reopen. He urged them to wear masks.
“If you are fortunate enough to be young and healthy, keep in mind that many of your neighbors aren’t,” he said.