large gatherings, face mask

A face mask lay on the ground in an old Value City parking lot at the corner of 38th Street and Arlington Avenue, where city officials and community leaders asked residents in May to not participate in large gatherings. (Photo/Tyler Fenwick)

Marion County will continue to reopen slowly with some loosened restrictions beginning Sept. 28.

Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine announced updates to public health orders Sept. 25.

Starting Sept. 28:

• Restaurants, bars, night clubs and other food businesses can open at 50% indoor capacity and full outdoor capacity. Bar seating and dance floors are still closed. These venues can also now have live entertainment with a 10-foot buffer between stages and the audience.

• Gyms and fitness centers can open at 50% capacity.

• Museum, entertainment and cultural venues can open at 50% capacity.

• Churches and funeral services can be held indoors at 75% capacity.

• Assisted living facilities can allow indoor visitation.

K-8 schools can now go to 100% in-person learning. All schools can open to 100% for in-person learning when the county’s positivity rate is 5% or lower and the daily number of new cases is 35 or fewer for two weeks.

Outdoor athletic events can have 1,500 people, and indoor events can have 500 people (or 50% capacity for both, whichever is lower).

Caine said these loosened restrictions are possible because health measures in Marion County have been steady.

The positivity rate hasn’t changed much since late August and is currently at 4.9%. The county is at about 85 new cases per day.

Caine said these are the two most important measures to consider when reopening and that the goal is to stay under a 5% positivity rate and get to fewer than 35 new cases per day. Once that happens for at least two weeks, Caine said the county can get back to “near normal.” She hopes that can happen by Nov. 1.

Marion County saw an increase in new cases per day after going to Stage 4.5 of reopening in July.

“We probably opened up too soon,” Caine said.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state can move to Stage 5 of reopening starting Sept. 26, but county health officials already said they wouldn’t move that far forward. Marion County, the most populous in the state, has consistently remained behind the rest of the state in reopening.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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