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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Marion County schools going back to virtual; new restrictions on businesses and gatherings

Mayor Joe Hogsett said the positivity rate in Marion County is above the 10 percent threshold and now requires additional mitigation.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine provided an update on Marion County's latest COVID-19 data and restrictions on various activities.

Hogsett said the positivity rate in Marion County is above the 10 percent threshold and now requires additional mitigation.

The following changes go into effect Monday, Nov. 16:

  • Indoor capacity will be reduced to 25 percent for bars and entertainment venues, although outdoor capacity will continue to be allowed up to 100 percent.
  • Restaurant capacity will remain at 50 percent indoors with outdoor capacity at 100 percent.
  • Self-service buffets and salad bars are banned. 
  • Karaoke is banned.
  • Maximum party size at tables, restaurants and bars is reduced to six people. 
  • The midnight closure requirement that previously applied to bars, restaurants and clubs will now be extended to all non-essential hospitality and entertainment businesses, including live entertainment venues. 
  • Special or seasonal events, such as concerts, movie screenings, fairs, festivals, conventions, weddings, wedding receptions or sporting events, are now limited to 50 people. They may include more than 50 people only if the event has an approved safety plan from the Marion County Public Health Department. This is a reduction from the current 250-person limit. All other social gatherings of more than 25 people are not allowed.
  • Religious centers are limited to 75 percent capacity.
  • Cultural venues, music venues, museums, tourism sites and other non-essential tourism venues are reduced to 25 percent capacity. 
  • Gyms and fitness centers, as well as private clubs and fraternal organizations, are reduced to 25 percent indoor capacity. 
  • Marion County will now require a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours for a visit to any long-term care facility. 

Schools ordered to go virtual

Dr. Caine provided an update on the changes in Marion County schools and extracurricular activities:

  • All Marion County schools must return to virtual instruction no later than Monday, Nov. 30. This includes all grades from K-12. 
  • Extra-curricular and sporting events can only include participants, parents, guardians and support personnel.
  • The order ends Jan. 15, 2021.

Marion County high schools are currently at 18 percent positivity rate, middle schools are at 14 percent and elementary schools are at 8 percent.

On Wednesday, Marion County recorded more than 700 new COVID-19 cases.
Hogsett has recommended scaling back Thanksgiving gatherings due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in Indiana.  

Indiana restrictions

On Wednesday, Gov. Eric Holcomb and state leaders announces a series of new restrictions as a result of the surge in COVID cases.

Beginning Nov. 15, Holcomb is stepping Indiana back from Stage 5 and signing pandemic requirements for all Hoosiers and restrictions for counties. Those requirements include social distancing and wearing a mask. Businesses will need to post signs saying masks are required and to encourage social distancing amongst customers.

The governor is asking people to limit or stop visiting family at long-term care facilities. Hoosiers are also encouraged to limit gatherings at home and to try to keep gatherings outside.

RELATED: Gov. Holcomb announces new restrictions during COVID-19 surge

County restrictions

The state uses positivity rates and other factors to color code each county's level of COVID concern. The state updates that map with daily numbers.

For counties in orange, gatherings will be limited at 50 people. Larger events will need approval of the local health department. That includes limiting attendance at school athletic and other events to 25 percent. 

For those counties in red, gathering will be limited at 25 people. Gathering with more than 25 people will need approval for the local health department. Local officials can limit hours for bars, nightclubs and restaurants.

Credit: WTHR

These restrictions will be in place for at least the next month.

RELATED: Coronavirus surge sends many Hoosier hospitals 'over 100 percent occupancy'

RELATED: Most Johnson County schools making schedule changes due to COVID-19 surge

The state will make $20 million for local governments to use for compliance efforts, including: planning, public awareness, and enforcement. In order to be eligible, the local governments will be asked to support compliance.

The governor said they are trying to avoid businesses having to shutdown, so Hoosiers must take precautions now to stop the surge.

"Things will shutdown and decrease if we don't take action," Dr. Kristina Box echoed.