Healthcare experts weigh in on moving into Stage 5, lifting capacity limitations

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INDIANAPOLIS — Beginning Saturday, Indiana officially moves into Stage 5 of the state’s Back on Track plan. While bars and restaurants can lift restrictions on their establishments, Shandy Death believes not all of them will.

“Just because the governor is allowing the state bars to open throughout Indiana at 100% capacity does not mean that the bars in Marion County will necessarily open at 100% capacity,” Dearth said. “As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, the local health officials can set different regulations that are more strict.”

Dearth is the Director of Undergraduate Epidemiology Education at IU’s Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health. She still encourages people to enjoy outdoor dining when the option is open, especially while it is still warm.

“As far as bars go, we still have wineries with lots of outdoor seating, lots of breweries with gardens open,” Dearth said.

Under Stage 5, people will still need to wear masks and social distance. The governor’s directive said people should take a seat whether at a counter or a table. Dearth encourages people to reconsider going into a bar that is crowded.

“I would just encourage people to really look at the crowd size, look at how safe people are being,” Dearth said. “Are they socially distanced? Are they crowded up at the bar?”

As restrictions life, Dearth said establishments will likely experience some challenges.

“The more people drink, those inhibitions kind of go away with lots of things, not just wearing a mask or social distancing,” Dearth said. “But again, we would be concerned about people forgetting about the mask when they’re up and moving about.”

Dr. Shaun Grannis, Vice President for Data Analytics at Regenstrief Institute, said we are not out of the woods yet regarding this pandemic. But things are looking up.

“We supply data to the decision-makers,” Grannis said. “When anyone looks at that data, we see that the positivity rate is decreasing. We see that hospitalizations are decreasing. We see that emergency room visits for COVID are decreasing. All of these are good signs and I think all of those contributed to the governor’s decision.”

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