A surge in COVID-19 cases throughout Marion County over the last two weeks has forced Mayor Joe Hogsett to make changes in Indianapolis’ reopening plan. Restaurants, entertainment venues and gyms will reduce capacity and schools will return to virtual learning.
In a press conference Nov. 12, Hogsett said indoor capacity for bars and entertainment venues will be 25%, and 50% for restaurants. Outdoor capacity will remain at 100% capacity. Self-service buffets and salad bars are prohibited, as well as karaoke. Only six people per party will be allowed to sit at one table in restaurants and bars, and all non-essential businesses must close at midnight. Seasonal events, movies, and sporting events are limited to 25% capacity, and events with more than 50 people must be approved by the Marion County Public Health Department. These restrictions will go into effect Nov. 16.
“I take absolutely no joy in making these changes,” Hogsett said. “In fact, it’s heartbreaking for me as someone who loves this city and desperately wants to see a speedy recovering from the effects of this pandemic. But, my heart also breaks when I receive a daily report on the deaths of our neighbors who fall victim to this virus.”
Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department, ordered all Indianapolis K-12 schools return to virtual learning no later than Nov. 30. Caine cited positivity rates among children in Indianapolis, which has increased among middle school and high school students. Sporting events can still occur, but are limited to players, parents or guardians and essential personnel.
The increase in cases among children is congruent with overall positive cases in Indianapolis.
“For the first time, Indiana reached over 5,000 cases a day this week,” Caine said. “We believe that if [Indianapolis] doesn’t hit 1,000 new cases today, it will by tomorrow. We have to be aggressive about how we approach control of this infection.”
Both Hogsett and Caine urged Indianapolis residents to cut back on holiday gatherings, and if possible, to connect with distant and elderly family via video chat or a telephone call. Caine said it’s important to remember that asymptomatic individuals can still spread COVID-19, so it’s best to limit the number of people you have in your home.
Hogsett said if you choose to travel for the holidays to quarantine yourself when you arrive home to avoid any potential spread.
“None of that will be easy, and it will certainly cut down on the holiday fun,” Hogsett said. “But deciding to do these things could truly be a life or death decision for those you love.”
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.