Indiana’s mask mandate ends; some decide to still require face coverings

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — At the stroke of midnight Monday, Indiana’s mask mandate turns into an advisory as Hoosiers have begun to see some relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has put the power to keep the mandate and the size of gatherings at various venues into the hands of local governments and other entities.

In addition starting Tuesday, customers in restaurants, bars and nightclubs will no longer be required by the state to be seated, and social distancing and other spacing of seating will still be recommended between parties not from the same household.

Masks will still be required at K-12 schools through the end of the school year and in state government buildings.

Indianapolis will keep its mask requirement, which began in July, as well as other COVID-19 restrictions. Officials have scheduled a news conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday to present an update on their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Several counties in central Indiana, including Hamilton and Johnson counties adjacent to Indianapolis, have said they will no longer require people to wear masks.

In Fishers, which has its own health department separate from Hamilton County’s, employees at BluePeppermint Boutique, a women’s clothing shop, said Monday they will continue wearing masks and ask customers to do so as well. Meanwhile, the manager at Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream says employees will wear masks for about another month, but the business will not require customers to wear them.

The Fishers Health Department says it’s committed to helping businesses keep their employees and customers safe. Officials say businesses should feel comfortable calling police if they don’t feel safe.

“If a business owner feels as though an individual’s refusal to wear a mask and refusal to leave is unruly or unsafe for others, our police department will absolutely respond and talk through the situation once they arrive and then hopefully allow all parties to walk away,” said Ashley Elrod, public relations director for Fishers government.

Officials with the Fishers Health Department say they are optimistic about the future because the community has a strong vaccination rate.