TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – On Wednesday, Governor Eric Holcomb announced that beginning Saturday, September 26th, that Indiana will move to Stage 5 of the Back on Track Indiana plan.
This comes nearly 3 months after the original July 4th date.
Some local businesses say his announcement brought a feeling of surprise and excitement.
“There’s been a lot of delays, it was delayed several times but we were happy to hear that is finally going through,” said Hannah Topsti, waitress at Cackleberries.
“We saw it and we were probably like everyone else. It was like, ‘Oh that was surreal, this is happening. Okay we’re at 100%, let’s talk about it,’” said Cheyne O’Laughlin, owner of Charlie’s Pub and Grub.
Stage 5 allows bars, restaurants and indoor and outdoor venues to open at full capacity with social distancing in place.
O’Laughlin says Charlie’s will begin to increase their capacity from the current 75%, but not completely.
“You’ll try to look where you can gain seats or gain some of that capacity but with the six foot social distancing you still can’t add all your tables back,” O’Laughlin said.
Topsti says while Cackleberries will make all of their tables available, patrons should expect to see most of the same safety guidelines as recent months.
“We’ll still be trying to maintain some social distancing with the waiting, the waiting area, the lines. We will still be following a lot of sanitizing procedures,” Topsti said.
O’Laughlin says although great community support there has been some financial hits due to the pandemic, but he says as Stage 5 approaches his main focus is not recouping what was lost.
“I think what’s done is done, you just look for the future. You stick with your sanitation, your distancing and the guidelines and you try to make the best of it. I think you don’t look in the rear view at all,” O’Laughlin said.
Connie Wrin, owner of The Verve says the Eat In The Streets initiative will still continue through early November in Terre Haute to offer an option for people who feel safer outdoors.
During Stage 5, Indiana’s mask mandate will also be in effect until at least October 17th.
Stage 5 also allows for gatherings of more than 500 people with approval from a local health department.
Vigo County health educator Roni Elder says so far the health department has not received any requests for a gathering of 500 or more, but the county did approve several gatherings of more than 250 during stage 4.5.