Governor Holcomb’s latest public-health order outlines for the first time potential enforcement actions for businesses who ignore coronavirus precautions.
Holcomb announced Wednesday he’d institute new limits on large gatherings, linked to the four-level weekly COVID risk score calculated by the Indiana State Department of Health. The text of the 15-page order spells out additional requirements businesses must follow, and says state and local health departments, police, the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, or the Indiana Department of Homeland Security can act against businesses which defy those orders.
The order recommends a three-step process, starting with a verbal warning to correct “unsafe practices.” That would be followed by a written order, with businesses who still don’t comply subject to shutdown. The order says businesses closed down for noncompliance should be referred to state licensing boards or the secretary of state for possible license revocation.
The state followed that progression earlier this year with businesses who defied a lockdown order, but this is the first time it’s been explicitly applied to routine precautions. The order says businesses must mark off six-foot social distancing with signs or floor markings, make sanitizer readily available, and require employees to wear masks. It also requires restaurants, bars and clubs to keep tables six feet apart, and require patrons to remain seated.
The order requires businesses to post signs directing customers to wear masks, and recommends they deny admittance to those who won’t.
The order also limits spectators at most high school sporting events. Counties in the high-risk “red zone” — currently Clay, Decatur, Fayette, Fountain, LaGrange, Newton, Perry, Union and Warren — are barred from allowing any spectators other than players’ parents, guardians, or siblings. All but five of Indiana’s other 83 counties are in the “approaching high risk” orange zone, and are limited to quarter-capacity. The order says the Marion County Health Department and the I-H-S-A-A will work out a separate spectator plan for the state high school football championships at Lucas Oil Stadium over Thanksgiving weekend.
Spectators other than family members are banned from community sports events in orange and red counties.
As Holcomb announced on Wednesday, public or private gatherings other than religious services are subject to capacity limits based on risk level. The moderate-risk “yellow zone” — currently Crawford, Fulton, Monroe, Putnam and Switzerland Counties — are allowed gatherings of up to 100 people. The limit is 50 people in orange counties and 25 in red counties, unless the local health department approves in advance a plan for handling more.
While counties with worsening virus numbers can be moved to a higher risk level, counties must show improving numbers for two straight weeks before being moved to a lower level.
Local governments can impose stricter limits if they want. Indianapolis and Fishers have already done so.
The order runs through December 12 but can be extended or revised.