Governor Eric J. Holcomb today delivered a statewide address to lay out the road ahead for Hoosiers in the fight against COVID-19 – including a change in the mask mandate and opening up vaccinations to much younger Hoosiers.
“As we continue to isolate if you test positive, quarantine if you’re a close contact, and get vaccinated when you’re eligible, the light at the end of the tunnel becomes brighter and brighter,” Gov. Holcomb said. “It’s up to each and every one of us to do our part to stay on our course.”
Indiana’s current cases, positivity rate, hospitalizations, and deaths have all dropped drastically since mid-January, and nearly a million Hoosiers are fully vaccinated. The state plans to open vaccine eligibility to all Hoosiers 16 years and older on Wednesday, March 31, provided Indiana receives a large increase in the amount of vaccine as outlined by the federal government. Additional mass vaccination clinics will be scheduled for April and the state will implement a large employer vaccination program.
Starting April 6, decisions about venue capacity and social gatherings will be made by local officials. Customers in restaurants, bars, and nightclubs will no longer be required by the state to be seated. Six feet of spacing between tables and other seating will still be recommended as is the spacing between non-household parties.
The statewide face-covering mandate will become a mask advisory on April 6.
Face coverings will remain mandatory in all state buildings and facilities and in all vaccination and COVID testing sites until further notice.
K-12 schools will continue under current requirements through the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.
“When I visit my favorite restaurant or conduct a public event, I will continue to wear a mask,” Gov. Holcomb said. “It is the right thing to do. Hoosiers who take these recommended precautions will help us get to what I hope is the tail end of this pandemic.”
Local governments, private businesses, and other entities may institute more stringent guidelines.
The Indiana Department of Health will continue to provide county-level, color-coded metrics to provide easy to understand information about whether virus levels are increasing or decreasing locally.
The state public health emergency will be renewed for another 30 days, beginning April 1.
This declaration allows the state to act quickly if conditions take a turn for the worse and allows the state to continue to access hundreds of millions of federal dollars to support Hoosiers recovering from the impacts of the pandemic.
State Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) had the following response to the governor’s statement:
“I share Governor Holcomb’s pride in how Hoosiers came together to face this pandemic,” Senator Taylor said. “Our hospitals and health care workers put their own lives at risk to fight for our family members. Our companies kicked in to manufacture PPE. Our families made sacrifices by staying home to keep our neighbors safe. Our National Guard heeded the call to help feed our communities. And I want to thank every one of you for all of these efforts.
“I appreciate that Governor Holcomb is extending his emergency order for another month. This ensures that our state can get federal funding we need to continue our pandemic response,” said Senator Taylor. “We are not out of the woods yet. We have come so far and I’m so glad to see Hoosiers getting vaccinated. However, our families still face hunger, eviction and joblessness from this pandemic and some of the assistance available to families will be ending soon. I ask the governor to stay vigilant, and to work with the General Assembly to make sure the budget we pass next month and the upcoming distribution of federal funds focus on the struggling families that need this support during this difficult time.”
Click here to read the Governor’s full remarks.