Marion County lifts COVID-19 restrictions while restaurants, bars work to hire new staff

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MARION COUNTY, Ind. — Nearly all Marion County COVID restrictions were lifted at midnight on Thursday. Now, certain places like bars, restaurants and gyms can open at full capacity. 

Masks are no longer required, except for places that fall under federal regulations. But those who are not vaccinated are asked to wear them. Individual businesses can still require them. 

With the excitement to fully open ahead of the busy holiday weekend, comes a message that many restaurants and bars are still working to rebuild staffing. 

Although the news is welcomed, the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association says not everyone is out of the woods just yet. 

“While we’ve been able to go to 100% capacity, overwhelming it’s very difficult for us to do that because we don’t have enough people in the kitchen, we don’t have enough people on the front of the house,” said President & CEO of Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association, Patrick Tamm. 

Tamm says many people left the hospitality industry altogether.  

More than 215,000 Hoosiers working in restaurants were also laid off. Many looked for other opportunities outside the county. 

“The reality is, bartenders in Marion County left Marion County because other counties had bar tops open for months ahead of time,” Tamm said. 

Tamm also says many of these businesses rely heavily on people who work and live downtown to come eat and drink. 

As they start to come back, places like Loughmiller’s Pub and Eatery are able to add more staff back. 

“It’s been a slow and gradual growth for us,” said co-owner Danny Scotten. 

Although they haven’t been exempt from pandemic impacts, owner Danny Scotten says he feels lucky they’ve fared as well as they have. 

“We’re sandwiched between the Marriott and the Westin downtown here and it’s not just convention traffic, we’re seeing a lot more foot traffic.” 

He says between conventions, sporting events and the return of all state employees right across the road, he is hopeful for things to only go up from here. 

“It’s still a great city, we’ve got a lot of cool attractions, we’ve got a lot of great restaurants and bars and we need our locals to help us out and support us.” 

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