Indianapolis will drop its remaining COVID-19 safety measures July 1, officials said Tuesday, including social-distancing rules and capacity limits. Unvaccinated people will no longer be required to wear masks.
“Indianapolis is where it needs to be to lift restrictions,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett, based on the city’s vaccination and positivity rates, at a news conference.
About 40% of residents were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, and the seven-day average positivity rate has been under 5% for more than 40 days, according to Marion County Public Health Department data.
But, Hogsett cautioned, “Though we are lifting restrictions, we aren’t so naive to believe the pandemic is over. It is not. Mortality rates and hospitalization rates are indeed low, but they are not zero — which means that if you are still choosing to forgo the vaccine, you remain at risk, especially for the more contagious variants.”
Under Indy’s most recent health order, ratified by the City-County Council on June 7, indoor service at bars and restaurants, gyms, tourism sites and more had been limited to 75% capacity, with indoor sporting events capped at 50%. People organizing gatherings of more than 500 people had to submit risk-mitigation plans to the health department.
Now, even large venues like Lucas Oil and Bankers Life Fieldhouse will operate at full capacity for upcoming sports seasons, Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine confirmed.
Caine said there might still be restrictions in schools, but nothing will be final for at least a few weeks.
“Regarding schools, we’re going to need a little bit more time,” she said. “We’re dealing with a population that still hasn’t been fully approved for the vaccine. However, we know that parents and school staff are already planning for next semester. And we will continue to have conversations with school leadership to ensure our students have a successful year.”
The only restrictions remaining after Thursday will be federal ones, so Indy residents will still have to mask on public transportation, in airports and in health care settings, Caine said. Private businesses still have the right to set their own rules, she said.
Indianapolis was still far from Caine’s 50% vaccination goal. Daily vaccine doses administered peaked in April and have declined to under 2,000 doses per day in Marion County, according to Health Department data.
According to state health officials, Marion County reported just 21 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and three more deaths from the virus.
“This is not the end of our recovery, nor is it the end of our city’s obligation to help folks return to a new and a better normal,” Hogsett said. “We will continue to support those whose livelihoods have been threatened by the pandemic, we will continue to work to address the stark inequities around health that the pandemic has exposed and we will continue to work to help residents find the good paying jobs that can help them weather the next storm.”