Some hope for business boost with looser restrictions, others say it doesn’t go far enough

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — With Indiana moving to Stage 5 of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s reopening plan on Saturday, many businesses are hoping for a boost.

Restaurants and bars can open at full capacity.

Hendricks County has had the third most cases of COVID-19 in central Indiana. With 123 deaths, it’s also the county with the second most in central Indiana, a number currently tied with Johnson County.

At the Oasis Diner on Plainfield’s Main Street, it’s been a constant stream of customers throughout the pandemic.

“The people we’ve had come in here have been very loyal,” said manager Trisha Epley.

There’s been a lot more carryout with few lines, except for outside seating on the weekends.

Epley said while a few people have left, most have been happy to stay and wait.

She’s excited that the capacity restrictions are lifting.

“I’m really happy about that,” Epley said. “I think it’s going to help us even more. Even more people are going to feel more comfortable about going out.”

Charlie Cronau and his father were eating inside Thursday evening.

“If we have an opportunity to support a local business,” Cronau said, “we try to.”

They’ve cut back on eating out for financial reasons. A couple times they’ve eaten elsewhere to avoid a crowd.

They’re excited to be able to eat in groups larger than eight come Saturday, but also worried about those who will use the opportunity to not mask up and social distance as recommended.

“No matter how careful some people are, if you have enough people that aren’t being careful, it can cause problems for everybody else,” Cronau said.

But up Main Street at the Headquarters Barbershop, the looser restrictions bring no excitement from owner Sandy Thompson.

“I’m not sure it’s going to affect our industry,” Thompson said.

Although appointments won’t be needed, distancing means some barber’s chairs still can’t be used.

She said she thinks a lot of customers, especially older ones, stay away because of the continuing mask mandate.

“Yes, people that have trouble breathing,” she said.

For her, Stage 5 remains just a number.

“I look forward to things being back to normal, when people aren’t afraid,” Thompson said.

But at the Oasis where, masks aside, things will be back to normal come Saturday, the governor’s loosening is all good news.

“I think more people are going to start getting out since it’s 100%,” Epley said. “They’re going to think, ‘Ok, that means it’s safe. We can get out.'”

The governor’s mask mandate continues through Oct. 17.