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INDIANAPOLIS – Mayor Joe Hogsett announced significant steps Wednesday in reopening Marion County.

During a news conference, Hogsett said houses of worship can resume indoor services at 50% capacity as long as people observe social distancing and wear face coverings effective May 29. There is no cap on outdoor services.

Effective June 1:

  • The cap on public gatherings will increase to 50 people.
  • Restaurants can serve indoors and outdoors at 50% capacity. They must observe social distancing guidelines and staff must wear PPE.
  • Personal service industries such as hair and nail salons and spas, will resume by appointment only as long as they observe social distancing protocols. Staff must wear protective gear.
  • Gyms and fitness can reopen at 50% capacity. Tennis courts, basketball courts and non-contact sports fields can reopen. Pools can reopen at 50% capacity. If facilities are indoors, staff must wear face coverings.
  • Shopping malls and non-essential retail may allow 75% capacity and follow social distancing guidelines.

Some businesses will remain closed. Movie theaters, live performance venues and tourism spots will not reopen, Hogsett said, citing state guidelines. Those same guidelines mean bars and nightclubs will stay closed as well.

The city announced that the southwest quadrant of Monument Circle would reopen after being closed last weekend. The southeast portion will remain closed, but all four spokes will have access for vehicles. The change was made last week to allow outdoor dining.

Hogsett strongly encouraged residents to wear masks or face coverings, reminding people that the masks are for the protection of others. He also announced an initiative from the city to provide free masks for Marion County residents.

“I want to reiterate something that has been said in our previous updates, but it cannot be said enough,” Hogsett said. “The best way you can protect others from COVID-19 is by wearing a face covering while in public. When you see someone with a mask, they aren’t wearing it for themselves–they’re wearing it for you. To those who disagree with the science or the style of wearing masks in public, I have an even simpler message: you’re simply wrong.”

He called it a “small ask” for people to wear face coverings.

Dr. Virginia Caine with the Marion County Public Health Department said Indiana, as a state, was making progress based on criteria from the federal government.

Caine said there were multiple factors to consider in easing restrictions, including decreases in EMS runs, COVID-19 cases, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized, mortality and the percentage of positive coronavirus tests.

According to Caine, the numbers are on a downward trend in Marion County. The county was under the 150 cases a day mark, according to recent figures; two weeks ago, the county averaged more than 200 cases per day. She also cited a “significant reduction” in the number of COVID-19 deaths in Marion County.

Perhaps most importantly, according to Caine, the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 is on the decline. She also said hospitals were well equipped to handle any additional surge that comes from reopening.

“The ability for us to get to our new normal, to bring this vibrant city and continue to emphasize how wonderful city it is for our community, we really want to encourage everyone please wear a face covering while in public,” Caine said.

“Continue to do your personal things that you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones with frequent hand washing, maintain that six feet distance between yourself and others, and really try to encourage social distancing practices among your colleagues, your friends and family members.”