Marion County residents will be required to wear face coverings starting July 9, which is the same day the county will also move forward with its reopening plan, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced during a press conference July 2.
Masks will be required when indoors most of the time, as well as outdoors when it’s not possible to socially distance.
In a press conference July 2, Hogsett cited the flu pandemic of 1918, when Hoosiers were required to wear masks and saw only a .3% death rate, one of the lowest in the country, he said.
“It’s a piece of cloth,” Hogsett said. “It’s a piece of cloth that could save your life.”
Children age 2 and younger, as well as anyone with a medical condition that prevents the use of a mask, are exempt from the requirement.
The requirement applies to office settings, though Hogsett said it’s not necessary to wear a mask if someone is just sitting at their desk. Masks are also required at restaurants, except for when eating and drinking.
Hogsett said he has sympathy for those who feel “overwhelmed” by the pandemic and resulting public health measures.
“I’ll be honest,” he said, “I don’t have sympathy for those who may argue in the coming days that this simple scientific argument is an unjust burden.”
There could be fines for people or businesses that don’t comply, said Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the county health department.
Following Gov. Eric Holcomb’s announcement July 1, Marion County will also begin “Stage 4.5” of reopening.
Bars, theaters and entertainment venues will remain open at 50% capacity. Restaurants will remain at 75% capacity, and Hogsett said while most outdoor activities are safe, residents must continue to practice “extreme caution” while indoors.
Road closures at Broad Ripple Avenue, Georgia Street and Massachusetts Avenue will remain in place until at least July 19 to help local businesses to stay open and allow for social distancing.
Unlike the lift on restrictions statewide, however, assisted living centers and nursing homes will remain closed to visitors, and overnight camps are still closed.
Events, conventions, fairs and sporting events will be permitted — many with decreased capacity, according to Hogsett — but any organization hosting an event expected to have a crowd of more than 1,000 people must submit a public health event plan and get approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.
Marion County currently has 11,387 COVID-19 cases and 679 deaths, Caine said.
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.