INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Life in Indianapolis is about to get a little easier.
Wednesday, Mayor Joe Hogsett loosened up restrictions that have kept many of us at home, out of work and away from stores and restaurants. But not everyone will be happy with how Marion County is re-opening.
Indianapolis residents who want to hit the mall or have dinner out will probably be pleased. Those of us who need a haircut and manufacturers eager to get back to work will likely be disappointed.
"I know these delays will be frustrating to some," Hogsett admitted.
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He is taking small steps to re-open the city.
Beginning Friday, public gatherings - including religious services - will increase to a maximum of 25 people. Nonessential stores and shopping malls can reopen with restrictions on capacity and social distancing. Next Friday (May 22), only those restaurants with outdoor seating can reopen.
Restaurants with only indoor seating and nonessential manufacturing operations, as well as hair and nail salons and barbershops, stay closed until at least June 2.
"These are not decisions based on public opinion, they are made on the basis of public health," Hogsett said.
Public health officials waging the city's war on COVID-19 are encouraged by what they are seeing.
"We can show Marion County is heading in the right direction," said Marion County Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine. According to Caine, COVID-19-related emergency runs, confirmed cases, hospitalizations and daily deaths are all decreasing.
But reopening Indianapolis, even slowly, health officials warn could backfire. They will be closely watching the numbers.
"If our benchmarks show we are seeing a significant increase in our cases, will have to revert and move back to Stage 1," Caine said.
But the city is encouraging businesses to prepare for the best and start planning now, so they are prepared for the day they can get back in business.