(UNDATED) – Governor Eric Holcomb announced Indiana’s crowd size limits will be relaxed starting Monday following recent improvements in the statewide COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates.
The new rules will allow gatherings at up to 25 percent capacity at venues in counties with the two highest-risk levels of coronavirus spread on the state’s four-level rating system, Gov. Eric Holcomb said.
Social gatherings and event sizes, in the past, ranged from 25 to 250 people based on the county’s color based metrics, as of Monday, that will now be measured by percent. The percentages are as followed: 25 percent for red or orange counties, 50 percent for yellow, and 100 percent for blue.
Holcomb said residents and businesses must still follow precautions including mask wearing and distancing to stem the virus spread.
He intends to sign the new executive order on Sunday with the new coronavirus limitations lasting through February.
“We can manage our way through this,” Holcomb said. “We know what works, but it is a constant balance of our lives and our livelihoods.”
All 92 Indiana counties remain in the highest restriction categories according to the state Department of Health’s coronavirus risk tracking map. A county can move to a lower-risk rating after two weeks of improving per capita numbers of new infections and the percentage of tests confirming those infections.
Many other states are also lifting coronavirus restrictions even as health experts have warned the more contagious and possibly more lethal variant sweeping Britain will probably become the dominant source of infection in the U.S. by March. It has been reported in more than 20 states, including Indiana.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said she hopes eligibility will open up to people ages 65 and up within the next week.
“For now, we want to ensure we get Hoosiers ages 70 and older appointments as quickly as possible. We are just as anxious to expand eligibility criteria,” she said.
Dr. Weaver said those ages 60 and older represent 93 percent of Indiana’s COVID-19 deaths and 64 percent of hospitalizations, so vaccinating those people will have the biggest impact.
Indiana’s weekly vaccine distribution from the federal government has grown by some 13,000 doses to about 90,000, Weaver said. But even with the additional doses, it will take significant time to vaccinate the 750,000 residents between ages 60 and 69, she said.