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Everything you need to know before Indiana enters Stage 4.5

Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 7:00 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Going into the holiday weekend, Hoosiers were on there way to celebrate two things: July Fourth, and Stage 5 of Governor Holcomb’s Back-On-Track plan.

But after Holcomb decided to pump-the-breaks on entering the next full stage on Wednesday, he decided to go halfway instead --- Stage 4.5.

It might be a higher number than Stage 4 but do not expect much to change. Dine-in restaurants will continue with a 75% capacity limit. Places such as: bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, bowling alleys, amusement parks, and water parks will continue with a 50% capacity limit.

And if you were planning on attending a social gathering above 250 people this weekend, think again. Stage 4.5 maintains the cap of social gatherings at 250, all in effort to slow down the increase in coronavirus cases, not only in Indiana, but in states across the country.

“I still think it is prudent to tap the brakes until we really have a better sense of what this has done. What Stage 4.5 does is it keeps the cap on social gatherings at 250 people,” St. Joseph County Health Officer Mark Fox told 16 News Now Thursday.

“I hope nobody was planning an even larger gathering than that for Fourth of July because they’ll have to cut the guest list,” Fox says.

On the other hand, there are a few lifted restrictions in Stage 4.5. Outdoor nursing home and assisted living visitations must resume. As for indoor visitations, those are scheduled to begin on Saturday as well. Nursing and assisted living facilities will be required to provide a safety indoor visitation plan when Indiana enters Stage 5.

Horse racing and state fair racing can resume with 50% spectator capacity. Outdoor events like fairs and festivals will be allowed to operate under tight restrictions. Governor Holcomb also included the return of overnight youth camps and conventions in Stage 4.5.

However, residents who live in Elkhart County can forget everything they just read about Stage 4.5, because it’s not happening in their county.

Elkhart County Executive Health Officer Lydia Mertz says health officials elected to remain at Stage 4 through July 17th. Mertz says the decision to not follow suit with the rest of Indiana into Stage 4.5 was strictly about the county’s safety and slowing the spread of the virus.

“We need to, rather than open things up, we really need to stay where we are; spend some time getting the rate down. They just enacted the mask ordinance. We need some time educating more people about what that means, how to wear a mask, when to wear it. We need to be sure people get the notice about social distancing and how it is so important even in the summer. All summer long, we are going to need to do these things and we just need more time to get that done,” Mertz says.

Holcomb says he, and the Indiana Department of Health, will continue to monitor coronavirus cases in Indiana in the next two weeks before deciding to enter Stage 5.

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