CHICAGO (CBS) — Indiana bars and restaurants are getting a taste of what it’s like to get closer to normal operations. Saturday is the first night they can open at full capacity, at stage five of the state’s reopening plan.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said capacity restrictions for bars and restaurants and crowd size limits for social events were being lifted as of Saturday, but the statewide mask mandate will stay in place at least through Oct. 17.
Things were pretty much back to normal for at least one bar in Hammond, but at the Flat Rock Tap, it’s a little more slow-going. Still, owners and workers hope to open up at full capacity shortly.
“Hopefully being able to stay open a little bit later, getting more people in, seeing some more faces that haven’t came in prior to the reopening stage five,” bartender Christina Kelman said.
Even though restaurants and bars can be at full capacity, customers must stay seated and social distancing must remain between tables and bar chairs.
Under stage five of Indiana’s reopening plan, there’s also no limit on social gatherings, but if one exceeds 500 people, it needs clearance from the health department.
Saturday night, smaller groups of bar patrons were happy to be close to normal, drinking and watching sports.
Some said they’re still skeptical about the COVID-19 numbers, but Holcomb and health officials said a declining positivity rate has prompted the move to stage five.
At Flat Rock Tap, workers said customers are keeping each other accountable.
“A lot of regulars, they see other people coming in, and they’ll try to say like ‘Hey, this is our bar. We’d like to still see you wear masks.’ Everybody’s pretty excited to be back in here, too; our regulars as well,” Kelman said.
Under stage five, fitness centers can also open at full capacity, but social distancing is still required.