FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has moved the state to Stage 5 of the Back on Track reopening plan.
Holcomb made the announcement during his weekly coronavirus response briefing on Wednesday.
In Stage 5, restaurants and bars that serve food can operate at full capacity, though bar section customers must remain seated. Bars and nightclubs can also open at full capacity, with customers seated and social distancing required.
“Removing the capacity limits is progress,” the governor said. “… It is the reason we are able to make this progress.”
Indoor and outdoor venues can open at full capacity. Personal services, gyms, fitness centers and workout facilities may resume normal operations. While Senior centers and congregate nutrition sites may reopen as well.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are now required to provide visitation opportunities.
Size limitations have been removed for social gatherings and meetings. However, events with more than 500 attendees must submit a written plan to the local health department.
The statewide mask mandate will remain in place until Oct. 17, the governor said. The current mask mandate has been in place since July.
Moving forward, the state plans to use the color coded map approach to track the prevalence of COVID-19 in the state as well as maintain communication with local health departments.
Stage 5 was originally projected to begin on July 4, but due to increases in COVID-19 positivity cases, the state has been in Stage 4.5 since the projected date. The original Stage 5 plans have been altered and will be released when the executive order is signed on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Indiana announced 728 additional cases of the coronavirus and 10 additional deaths.
The United States leads the world in coronavirus deaths surpassing 200,000 deaths in the eight months the pandemic has swept the country. More than 6.8 million people have been infected with the virus since January.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state many deaths that have been linked to the coronavirus early on were in communities with lower incomes and higher populations of people of color.
The surge of cases continue to be alarming for low income communities as well as essential workers like nurses, and those who work in restaurants.
Teachers are also considered essential workers. The CDC is concerned with rising cases now that schools are back in session across the country.