Indianapolis will lift mask mandate June 7 for fully vaccinated people, with exceptions
A day after the CDC issued new masking guidelines, retailers started announcing changes to mask policies for fully vaccinated customers. Wochit
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If you’re vaccinated, you will soon be able to take off your masks in most places in the Indy metro area.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett on Wednesday announced that Marion County would lift its mask mandate for fully vaccinated residents as of June 7. The City-County Council will have to vote on the changes that night.
“That’s another two-and-a-half weeks worth of shots in arms,” Hogsett said at a press conference Wednesday.
The June 7 date also will ensure that people remain masked at the Indianapolis 500 at the end of this month and at graduations, parties, and other celebrations through early June, Hogsett said.
James Briggs: Vaccines are the key to a return to normalcy around Indy and the U.S.
When it comes to mask enforcement, the city will rely on the honor system.
The mask mandate will lift for fully vaccinated people — defined as those whose final shot occurred at least two weeks ago. But the city will not police whether people who are barefaced in public have actually been vaccinated, said Dr. Virginia Caine, Marion County public health director.
“I think we’re going to try to rely on the honor system,” she said.
You may still have to mask up in some businesses.
Individual businesses will still be allowed to decide to ask people to wear masks and fully vaccinated individuals will still need to keep on their masks in hospitals and on public transportation, Caine said.
That’s how it works in the rest of the metro area, where many businesses still require masks be worn despite there being no local government mask mandate.
Less than a third of Marion County residents are vaccinated
About 31% of Marion County residents have been vaccinated.
Health officials will also ask the City Council to amend capacity restrictions at the legislative body’s next meeting on June 7. Under a recently passed law, local authorities must approval all health department recommendations before they can go into effect.
The department will recommend that religious services and funerals go from 75% to 100% capacity, indoor service in bars go from 50% to 75% and restaurants will remain at 75%; personal services such as hair salons will go from appointment only to 6-feet social distancing.
In addition, the city will recommend that indoor sports and other large indoor events go from 25% to 50%, entertainment and cultural venues from 50% to 75%, and large gatherings will leap from 50 to 500 people.
Hogsett’s announcement came one week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that those who were fully immunized no longer needed to wear face coverings in most indoor and outdoor settings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that masks still be worn in correctional facilities and homeless shelters.
Some places, such as Chicago and New York state, have decided to lift their mask mandates now in light of the new guidelines. Conversely, California has opted to wait until June 15 to do so.
Waiting another two and a half weeks will give Marion County time to see more residents fully vaccinated and watch other data points, officials said Wednesday.
“It gives us two and a half more weeks to see where we are at that time and therefore make a more informed and better decision about going forward,” Hogsett said. “It does give the people of Marion County a road map as to how get there and what will happen in terms of these restrictions and lifting them when we do get there.”
Last week the seven-day daily average for new COVID-19 cases in the county was 149. Two days ago it had dropped to 113, according to the county’s COVID dashboard.
However, the positivity rate is 5.8%, above the threshold of 5% or lower that Caine said communities use as a gold standard to measure viral spread.
On Wednesday, Caine said that once 50% of the county has been fully vaccinated and we’re seeing fewer than 100 new cases per day on average, the health department will recommend a full reopening. She predicted this could happen by July 4.
But she warned that in order to achieve this goal, more people need to get vaccinated and people need to keep following the public health steps known to be effective against COVID-19 spread.
“This welcome news for our community does not mean that the end of the pandemic is here yet. Our progress gives us hope that there’s light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, but we can’t be blind-sighted by the light,” she said. “The full reopening of our community is within our reach.”
Contact IndyStar reporter Shari Rudavsky at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter: @srudavsky.
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Published at Wed, 19 May 2021 16:09:50 +0000