Indianapolis will take a big step in easing local COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, according to the Indianapolis Star — just in time for the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
Bars can start operating at 50% capacity, instead of just 25%, and restaurants can increase indoor capacity to 75% from 50% capacity on Monday. Bars and restaurants can start staying open until 2 a.m. again, instead of being forced to close at midnight.
Though the timing of the changes may seem like they are related to the impending basketball tournaments in the city, Mayor Joe Hogsett insisted that was far from the case.
"We're making these changes because the data and because public health experts have told me that the progress we have made is making a difference," he said, via the Indianapolis Star.
Indianapolis and Marion County have seen a significant decline in coronavirus case numbers in recent weeks. The county is currently reporting just more than 100 new cases each day, and had a positivity rate around 3.8% as of mid-February, per the Indianapolis Star. Officials also said that they have extra precautions in place for when all of the teams and fans converge on the city next month, and that they have “over 200 contact-tracing individuals” ready to work during the tournaments.
The women’s Big Ten tournament will kick off on March 9 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and the men will follow suit a day later at Lucas Oil Stadium. The NCAA tournament will follow suit with the First Four on March 18 at various locations around the city — a change the NCAA made due to the pandemic instead of holding games at numerous sites across the country. The Final Four is set to take place at Lucas Oil Stadium.
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