Marion County bars and nightclubs can reopen at 25% capacity beginning Sept. 8, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced during a COVID-19 update Sept. 3, but all other restrictions are unchanged.
Bars and nightclubs can open outdoor seating at 50% capacity. Dancing and live entertainment aren’t allowed, and bar seating is still closed. Bars and nightclubs should close at midnight, and customers must stay seated at tables and must wear a mask when walking around.
Hogsett said Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Health Department, will “go full ‘Footloose’ on your business if you’re operating as a dance club.”
Caine said three violations for bars and nightclubs will lead to closure for a minimum of 30 days.
City officials have cited bars and nightclubs as consistent sources of problems related to social distancing and wearing masks, and they were ordered to close for a second time July 24. Caine said the reason bars and nightclubs have to close at midnight is because many of the health complaints came after then.
Hogsett and Caine credited Marion County residents for improved trends in daily case counts and other metrics. Hospital admissions for COVID-19, for example, are down to about 14 per day now, compared to more than 20 on some days in early August.
“This progress does not mean it’s time to relax,” Caine said.
The county mask mandate is still in place. Restrictions that still stand from the last public health order in July include a limit of 50 people for social gatherings, a 50% capacity cap for indoor religious services, and gyms at 25% capacity.
Bars and nightclubs will be allowed to partially reopen the day after Labor Day, reminiscent of when the county eased restrictions before Fourth of July weekend, when cases began to spike again.
Caine warned residents to be smart over Labor Day weekend.
Aside from an improvement in hospitalizations, Marion County has seen fewer new cases per day and emergency room visits for COVID-19 symptoms. Cases per 100,000 people has been steady at about 13 since early August, and the number of deaths related to COVID-19 has hovered around one per day.
Caine said the county is also doing an adequate number of tests per day to get a large enough sample.
As has been the case in recent months, it is increasingly younger people who make up most of the cases. Those below 40 represented just over a fourth of cases in March but now account for about 60% of cases.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.
Mayor Joe Hogsett updates the county’s COVID-19 response Sept. 3.