This weekend, most businesses throughout Indiana will be able to fully reopen if they choose. While Stage 5 lifts capacity limits on businesses, bars and restaurants still face other restrictions.
The final step keeps the mask mandate in effect while lifting limitations on capacity for businesses. Bar patrons must be seated and social distancing is expected to be practiced.
Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association President Patrick Tamm said while lifting capacity restrictions is good news, restaurants still face limitations.
“While the governor allows us to move the Stage 5, we still are required for social distancing,” said Tamm. “So we're not truly at 100 percent occupancy. But he does clearly give us the ability in some cases, depending upon our floor plans and how things are laid out, to try to maximize the best we can.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the hospitality industry hard over the last few months with a recent survey showing 41 percent of Hoosier restaurants could close in the next six months. That increases to 46 percent without any additional federal aid to businesses.
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Tamm said the hospitality industry can’t afford to have another shutdown. He said with Stage 5 going into effect, it’s even more critical to follow best practices keeping customers and employees safe.
“At the same time, it is not a time to lower our guard, it's actually a time to actually make sure and be even more diligent in terms of cleaning, disinfection, sanitation, and proper safety protocols during this time, so we can stay where the governor has moved us,” said Tamm.
He said additional federal aid is still needed to help businesses stay open in the coming months.