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Bloomington bars may be restricted when IU starts in the fall

Bloomington bars may still be operating under service restrictions by the time I-U resumes classes next month.

Mayor John Hamilton says Monroe County should “seriously consider” joining four others in requiring masks. And he says the county should look at continuing limits on bars.Hamilton says being indoors and elbow-to-elbow has made bars a prime area for spreading coronavirus.

Bars are limited to half capacity statewide for at least two more weeks. Hamilton says Bloomington could leave that cap in place locally, limit bars to sit-down service at tables, or close bars entirely except for carryout service. He notes all those approaches have been tried in different states.

Hamilton says the city has the power to act on its own, but would prefer to work in tandem with the county. Monroe County Commissioner Julie Thomas says the commissioners have been hearing from county residents who want stricter ordinances, and have been meeting almost daily to work through issues like how to enforce a mask requirement. She says they’re hoping to settle on a plan by the time the current state order expires July 18.

Hamilton says he’d prefer to see a national mask requirement, pointing out the pandemic is national in scope. Failing that, he says he’d rather see a statewide requirement, as 17 states have ordered. Governor Holcomb launched a “Mask Up Hoosiers” social media campaign Wednesday, featuring the governor, Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch, state health commissioner Kris Box, and other state leaders wearing masks. But Holcomb has stopped short of requiring masks, at least for now, saying he trusts Hoosiers to do the right thing.

Monroe County has had 263 confirmed cases of coronavirus, though the county’s current numbers are the highest in five weeks. That total doesn’t include Hamilton himself, who announced an antibody test indicates he had the virus. Hamilton self-quarantined throughout April after experiencing moderate flu-like symptoms. Two coronavirus tests at the time came back negative.

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