INDIANAPOLIS – For the most part, Indianapolis will follow Stage 4.5 of the state’s “Back on Track” plan amid the pandemic.
But there are some significant differences, including a mask and face covering requirement that begins on July 9.
The requirement applies to when residents are out of their homes in an indoor space (office buildings, retail establishments, etc.), Mayor Joe Hogsett said.
Masks are also required if you are outdoors and unable to socially distance (sitting in stands at a game, standing in line at an outdoor venue, for example).
There are exceptions: children ages 2 and under and anyone with a medical condition that prevents the use of a mask.
“I know that many will not agree with this policy. I know many more will feel inconvenienced by it,” Hogsett said. “This is a major change to what normal means here in Indianapolis.”
Marion County residents can apply for a free mask on the city’s website.
“I’ll sympathize with those who feel overwhelmed by the transformation of our daily lives. But I’ll be honest: I don’t have sympathy for those who may argue in the coming days that this simple, science-driven policy is an unjust burden.
“We’ve lost 125,000 Americans to this disease already. That’s more than the death toll our nation faced in the entirety of World War I,” Hogsett said. “That includes thousands of Hoosiers and hundreds of our neighbors right here in Marion County. Tens of thousands more will die across the country in the weeks and months to come.”
He continued, “This isn’t complicated. This is a piece of cloth that can save your life and the lives of those around you. And it is the right thing to do.”
He said those who chose not to follow the mandate were “dead wrong.”
“This weekend, we celebrate those who did the difficult things to preserve personal freedom. We don’t celebrate those who whined about it,” Hogsett said.
When asked why the city and county weren’t requiring masks immediately, the mayor pointed to the need for public education and awareness.
To help promote mask usage, the city is commissioning six local artists to create pro-mask posters and public art installations. They are already on display in some Marion County bars and restaurants. The Indy Arts Council did a survey of 8,000 Hoosiers, and 65% told them they would be more likely to go to Marion County for events, concerts, dining, or retail if both patrons and employees were required to wear masks.
“Anytime there is eating or drinking happening people are going to use that as a carte blanche excuse to not wear one,” says artist Aaron Scamihorn. As for his poster work, “I focused in on trying to do a young group of people that showed some diversity, kind of looked like a sampling of that kind of audience. I kind of wanted to show them in solidarity that we are committed to doing this.”
Marion County will, overall, follow Stage 4.5 of the “Back on Track” plan starting on July 9, Hogsett said.
- Bars, movie theaters, cultural and entertainment venues remain at 50% capacity
- Restaurants remain at 75% capacity
- Most outdoor activities will be permissible
- Need to practice social distancing indoors
But, in addition to the mask requirement, there are some differences for Marion County residents:
- Indoor areas of assisted living will remain closed to visitors
- Overnight camps will remain closed
- Any event anticipating attendance over 1,000 people must submit a public health plan and seek approval from the health department
In addition, the mayor said an executive order will extend temporary street closures on Broad Ripple Avenue, Mass Ave and Georgia Street through Sunday, July 19.