Businesses, customers face choices as Indianapolis prepares to end mask mandate

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Starting June 7, people in Marion County who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will no longer need to wear masks unless required in businesses.

Marion County first mandated mask-wearing on July 9 during the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Joe Hogsett says waiting until June 7 allows Indianapolis to get past the Indianapolis 500 and other large events in a safe manner.

Drew Slager, an Indianapolis resident, said that the upcoming end to the mask mandate “gives people some hope to say we are going to move forward and we will get through this.”

Slager understands businesses can make their own rules. “If someone is not vaccinated, I think they’re still at risk and there’s still a possibility of transferring the virus to other people that are at risk and, in that regard, I think that’s why businesses have the freedom to still require masks and that’s totally fine for them to do that.”

The people at Slippery Noodle Inn, a downtown restaurant, are among businesses operators saying the upcoming change is exciting news. “It’s just another step towards post-COVID,” said Sara Etherington, office manager at Slippery Noodle Inn. “It’s nice to hear that the government is behind or that everybody is … things are starting to normalize a little bit.”

Etherington says their customers currently are required to wear masks and, despite the new changes, the restaurant operators aren’t sure when they’ll lift their mask requirement. “Until we can arrange a managers’ meeting and kind of get everybody’s opinion on it and see what the powers that be want to do, for now we’ll still have the masks. It’s basically while you’re standing up and when you walk in you need to have your mask on.”

The owner of the Homespun: Modern Handmade boutique on Massachusetts Avenue say they’ll likely stick to their mask requirements. “We’ll probably continue to wear masks because I do think that that’s probably safer for the summer, at least for my employees, to kind of see where things go after the mandate is lifted publicly,” said Amanda Mauer Taflinger, owner of Homespun: Modern Handmade. “It’s a temporary inconvenience, but there are people, I know, there’s going to be backlash. I just would like to people to understand that we’re trying to make the best decisions as possible for our staff and our family and our customers to keep everyone safe.”

Taflinger says while her employees have had their vaccinations, it’s hard to know if their customers are fully vaccinated. “As (far as) people coming in that we have no control over, like, we don’t know who’s been vaccinated, who hasn’t, and people could tell us they have just because they don’t want to put a mask on.”


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