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If you’re vaccinated, you will soon be able to take your masks off in most locations in the Indy Subway Area.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Wednesday that Marion County will lift its mask mandate for fully vaccinated residents from June 7th. The city council has to vote on the changes that night.
“That’s another two and a half weeks of gun shots,” Hogsett said at a press conference on Wednesday.
The June 7 date will also ensure people stay masked at the Indianapolis 500 by the end of this month and during graduations, parties, and other celebrations through early June, Hogsett said.
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When it comes to mask enforcement, the city doesn’t check vaccination cards.
The mask mandate is lifted for fully vaccinated individuals – defined as those whose final shot was at least two weeks ago. But the city won’t monitor whether people who are barefoot in public have actually been vaccinated, said Dr. Virginia Caine, Marion County Public Health Director.
“I think we’ll try to rely on the honor system,” she said.
In some companies, you may still need to mask yourself.
Individual companies are still allowed to choose whether to wear masks, and those fully vaccinated must continue to wear their masks in hospitals and on public transport, Caine said.
This is how it works in the rest of the subway area, where many companies still require masks to be worn even though there is no mask mandate from the local government.
Less than a third of Marion County’s residents are vaccinated
Approximately 31% of Marion County’s residents have been vaccinated.
Health officials will also urge the city council to amend the capacity constraints at the next session of the legislature on June 7th. A recently passed law requires local authorities to approve all health ministry recommendations before they can go into effect.
The department will recommend that worship and funerals be kept from 75% to 100%, indoor worship in bars from 50% to 75%, and restaurants to stay at 75%. Personal services like hair salons range from dating only to 6 foot distancing.
In addition, the city will recommend that indoor sports and other large indoor events increase from 25% to 50%, entertainment and cultural venues from 50% to 75%, and large gatherings from 50 to 500 people.
Hogsett’s announcement came a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said those who were fully immunized would no longer have to wear face covers in most indoor and outdoor areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that masks continue to be worn in correctional facilities and homeless shelters.
Some places, like Chicago and New York State, have decided to lift their mask mandates now in light of the new guidelines. Conversely, California has decided to wait until June 15th.
Not everyone is happy
However, some expressed displeasure that the officials did not act sooner to revoke the mask mandate.
In a statement sent by email, Brian Mowery, leader of the Republican minority in Indianapolis, called the announcement “a disappointing half-deal.”
Pointing out many other democratically controlled cities and states that have dropped their mask mandates, Mowery said anyone who wants a vaccine in Indianapolis can now get one.
“While we will certainly appreciate the June 7 improvements, we believe this is not enough and it is taking more than two weeks to prevent individuals and businesses from fully living their lives,” he said, adding that he would like the leadership to focus on the reopening Indianapolis and the historic number of murders. “Instead, the democratic leadership in this city seems to be more focused on preventing our city from being brought back to life.”
Both New York City and Chicago have lower positivity rates than Indianapolis. The average positivity rate in Chicago is 3.3% and New York is 3.18%.
The rate of positivity in Indianapolis is 5.8%, above the 5% or less threshold that communities use as the gold standard for measuring virus spread, according to Caine.
Waiting for another two and a half weeks will give Marion County time to see more residents fully vaccinated and observe other data points, officials said Wednesday.
“We still have two and a half weeks to see where we are at this point, so we are making a more informed, better decision about how to proceed,” said Hogsett. “It gives the people of Marion County a roadmap on how to get there and what will happen about those restrictions and lift them when we get there.”
Last week, the seven-day daily average for new COVID-19 cases in the county was 149. Two days ago it had dropped to 113, according to the county’s COVID dashboard.
On Wednesday, Caine said the health department will recommend a full reopening once 50% of the county is fully vaccinated and we are seeing an average of less than 100 new cases per day. She predicted this could be done by July 4th.
However, she warned that more people will need to be vaccinated to meet this goal and that people must continue to follow public health steps that are known to be effective against the spread of COVID-19.
“This welcome news to our community doesn’t mean the end of the pandemic is yet to come. Our progress gives us hope that there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, but we cannot be blind to the light,” she said. “The full reopening of our community is within our grasp.”
Contact IndyStar reporter Shari Rudavsky at [email protected] Follow her on Facebook and Twitter: @srudavsky.