What does full capacity with social distancing at bars and restaurants mean for Stage 5?


CARMEL, Ind. — Indiana bars and restaurants will be at full capacity starting Saturday, but Governor Eric Holcomb’s orders come with a caveat. They must remain socially distant.

“If we are going truly allow our guests in there, and be profitable, then we need to know that fine print. What’s it going to look like for everybody,” questions Cynthia Zimla, co-owner of Agave Bar & Grill in Carmel, “You can only do so much arm length, you know, certain feet apart. We are definitely going to open our space upstairs, and allow our guests safe distancing for them.”

The “fine print” has local establishments clamoring to determine what exactly “100% with social distancing” means. The Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association (InRLA) believes no bar or restaurant will truly be at full capacity under those orders. It depends on the layout of the location, and how easily they can spread tables apart.

“We will not be able to operate at 100% with the social distancing in place if we are truly doing what we want to do,” explains Beth Belange, Promotions and Marketing Director for Sun King Breweries, “We may not necessarily open up the bar space in all of our locations just to make sure we are keeping up with our compliance.”

Sun King has installed high tech air cleaners in all their taprooms in anticipation of this moment. The technology ionizes the air and claims to remove 90% of human coronaviruses including the one that causes COVID-19.

They, like many others, have enjoyed having vast patio space to accommodate customers in the open air, but with winter fast approaching, that luxury will soon be gone.

“We all have outdoor space, but finding actual fire pits or gas fire pits, is like trying to find a freezer at the beginning of the pandemic,” laughs Belange.

InRLA hopes the “Stage 5” designation will at least give customers the reassurance that it is safe to dine at local establishments. Many hot spots are just trying to remain in business.

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