Dr. Virginia Caine

Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department

Marion County will move backward in its reopening plan, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced July 23.

Social gatherings will be restricted to 50 people, and indoor religious services should not exceed 50% capacity. Bars and nightclubs that don’t serve food should close until at least Aug. 12, and bar seating in restaurants will be closed.

The new measures go into effect July 24.

Restaurants can operate at 50% capacity indoors, and Hogsett said the city will continue to work to expand outdoor seating. Restaurants should also close midnight-5 a.m.

Gyms can operate at 25% capacity. Tourism, sports and other related venues can operate at 25% capacity, and any event that might draw more than 250 people will require approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

“Right now, public health is our No. 1 priority,” Hogsett said. “Nothing else can move forward without it.”

There are no travel restrictions at this time, but Hogsett said anyone returning from a state with a high infection rate should self-quarantine for 14 days.

Hogsett also announced schools cannot resume in-person classes until at least Aug. 5. He said there will be more guidance for schools during a briefing next week.

Marion County moved to “Stage 4.5” of reopening in early July. Bars, movie theaters, cultural centers and other venues were allowed to remain at 50% indoor capacity. Restaurants were allowed to operate at 75% capacity. Gyms were allowed to open at full capacity.

Hogsett also instituted a mask mandate, which is still in place.

Marion County’s seven-day case average is up about 45% since the beginning of the month, a trend seen in many other parts of the country as states and cities deal with the consequences of reopening their economies.

Early in the pandemic, those 40 and older made up about 75% of positive cases in Marion County, but now 44% of cases are in people 20-39 years old. People 0-19 years old now make up 11% of new cases, an increase from 1% just a few months ago. 

“For those who are fortunate enough to be young and healthy,” Hogsett said, “keep in mind many of your neighbors are not. Mask up.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb mandated face coverings July 22 for all of Indiana and has delayed reopening.

Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department, echoed Hogsett in saying wearing a mask — and wearing it correctly, covering your nose and mouth — is the most effective way to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

“We’re monitoring COVID cases in other states where hospitalizations and deaths have increased substantially,” Caine said. “Fortunately, with the measures we have put in place, we have not seen those similar results. … I thank Mayor Hogsett for his continued leadership through this pandemic by making this mask mandate.”

Caine said the spike in positive cases occurred after the weekend of July 4, three days before the county-wide mask mandate took effect.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick. Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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