Indiana begins the last stage of its COVID-19 reopening plan leaving some small businesses on the fence

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September 26 marked the beginning of stage five, Governor Eric Holcomb’s “Back on Track” plan to reopen businesses throughout the state of Indiana. Moving to stage five means that bars, restaurants, nightclubs, gyms and fitness centers and indoor and outdoor venues are allowed to be open at full capacity. While these businesses are allowed to be open at full capacity, they are met with a number of restrictions. 

Face coverings and practicing social distancing are a requirement for these businesses to reopen. It is also required that you frequently wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when hand washing is not available. 

The stage five plan also includes a color-coded metrics system that allows the state to report how prevalent coronavirus is in each county. This metrics system measures the number of positive coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents in the county per week. Four different colors separate the severity of outbreaks depending on how many confirmed cases there are within the seven day period. 

Blue means that there has been less than five percent of new coronavirus cases reported within seven days in the county. If a county is blue then normal activities are able to continue. Yellow symbolizes that a county has a positivity rate of five to nine percent and increased awareness and safety measures should be taken. Orange and Red codes mean that there is high community spread of the virus and the Indiana State Department of Health will speak to local

health officials about the recommended actions the community needs to take to slow down the spread. 

While Indiana is moving to stage five, some managers in the restaurant industry are optimistic, yet still hesitant on whether this is the right call. Especially, heading into the fall and winter months where communities are expected to lose more small owned businesses during the latter end of the year. 

James Husek, general manager of Sangrita Saloon in Broad Ripple, says that it’s exciting to be back at full capacity, but it should also be taken with apprehension. 

“At Sangrita, we still do not allow bar top seating because we simply just don’t feel comfortable with strangers three feet away from our faces without a mask on,” Husek said. “I think if it is possible for you to survive the winter by only seating what you are comfortable with, you’ve made the hard, correct decision,” Husek continued. 

Husek also went on to say that he can’t fault businesses who need those extra dollars to stay afloat. He just hopes that they are doing their best to be safe and healthy. Jordan Schneider, front of house manager at Half Liter Barbecue and Beer Hall, says that she and the Half Liter management staff have gotten together to discuss potential outcomes in time for the winter. 

These plans include taking even more sanitary precautionary measures, as well as employees getting a COVID-19 test if they show any symptoms before they can come back to work. 

“All we can do now is stay optimistic and stay ahead of our plan to help curate the safest environment for all our guests,” Schneider said.

Schneider has been at the forefront of every different route that Half Liter has taken these past several months. From turning the restaurant into a grocery for members of the Broad Ripple community to have access to fresh produce and carryout during lockdown, opening up for outdoor seating only, to being open indoors at 50 percent capacity. She and the rest of the Half Liter staff are prepared for whatever outcome the winter brings. 

With an uncertain timeline for a COVID-19 vaccine and stage five being the final stage in Holcomb’s reopening plan, many are left wondering where to go from here.


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