Indiana to lift mask mandate amid concern: 'We’re not ready'
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor announced Tuesday he would lift the statewide mask mandate and remaining COVID-19 business restrictions in two weeks.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a speech from his Statehouse office that the state’s steep declines in coronavirus hospitalization and deaths rates along with the growing number of people fully vaccinated justify the steps starting April 6.
Holcomb said he hoped the state was seeing the “tail end of this pandemic” that has killed nearly 13,000 people in the state over the past year.
The date for ending the mask mandate was picked to coincide with the ending of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament now being held in Indianapolis and to allow more time for people with at-risk health conditions to get vaccine shots, Holcomb said.
Local officials would still have the authority to impose tougher restrictions in response to COVID-19 cases in their communities and face mask use would still be required in K-12 schools for rest of this school year, Holcomb said.
He urged residents to continue wearing masks in public and that bars and restaurants continue to space out their tables.
While Holcomb has faced public pressure and from conservative state lawmakers to ease restrictions, especially after governors in Texas and other states have done so recently, he didn’t make any bold victory announcements and asked residents to respect rules adopted by businesses and others.
“Whether that is a bank branch lobby, on the factory floor or a county courthouse or city hall, they retain the authority to make decisions about COVID restrictions for their operations and should be afforded the respect, compliance and understanding of all who visit them,” Holcomb said. “When I visit my favorite restaurants or...