Governor Holcomb is lifting most of Indiana’s remaining coronavirus restrictions, but a few limits remain in place.
Starting Saturday, there will no longer be capacity limits on bars, restaurants and entertainment venues, though they’ll still need to enforce social distancing. There’s no limit on mass gatherings either, but anything over 500 people will require approval from the local health department.
And Indiana’s mask requirement, which is part of a different order, remains in effect. State health commissioner Kristina Box notes Indiana’s positivity rate has dropped by one-third since Holcomb issued the mask requirement June 23, while Elkhart County, which imposed its own mask order before the state did, has seen an even steeper drop. She says while there’s still much that’s unknown about the virus, it’s now clear that even people without symptoms can spread it, and that masks are a key component in reducing that spread.
Holcomb says he understands Hoosiers’ discontent about masks, and says it’s not his preference, “but it’s not my preference that a pandemic is on top of us, either.” He says mask wearing and other precautions, such as hand washing and social distancing, have made it possible to emerge from restrictions. But he and Box both warn precautions will need to continue, probably for several months. And Holcomb says the state will continue to monitor the virus’s spread, with the possibility of reimposing restrictions if there’s another surge.
Indiana’s rolling average of positive tests has dropped below four-percent for the first time in three months. Every county is below 10-percent, with 58 of the 92 counties now listed at “minimal risk” for the virus basaed on a combination of positivity rates and the number of cases.
Holcomb says there’s a particularly heightened risk as the weather turns cold, as more people retreat indoors, where the virus spreads more readily.
While some conservatives have broken with Holcomb over the mask order to support the Libertarian candidate for governor, Westfield software engineer Donald Rainwater, Holcomb’s Democratic opponent is attacking the governor’s announcement from the other side. Former state health commissioner Woody Myers calls the lifting of restrictions “simply wrong,” and says the pandemic requires “more vigilance, not less.”