HAMMOND, Ind. (CBS) — Indiana public health officials on Saturday reported a record-breaking 8,451 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and an additional 25 confirmed deaths.
As CBS 2’s Steven Graves reported, new COVID-19 restrictions go into effect in Indiana after Saturday night. Starting at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, large-scale gatherings will no longer be allowed.
The state is also taking precautions by county. Nearly every county in Indiana is reporting high COVID-19 positivity rates – with most being marked orange with 100 to 199 cases per 100,000 residents, a few yellow with only 10 to 99 new cases, but also more than a few red with 200 or more.
In Northwest Indiana, Lake and Porter counties are in orange – which means they can only have gatherings of up to 50 people. That may sound like a lot, but it is down from 250.
If a county turns red, as is the case for Newton County just south of Lake County, the cap is at 25 people. Anything larger than that needs approval from the Indiana Department of Health.
Indoor school activities are also capped at 25 percent capacity. Masks and social distancing are required at any event with crowds.
Still, the restrictions in the Hoosier State are much more relaxed than what we’re seeing in Illinois. What you will see there are fewer large gatherings at venues such as banquet halls.
A worthwhile wedding at Dynasty Banquets in Hammond on Saturday had bride Darheshia Lapido thanking God it could even happen.
“We prayed constantly up until the day, but we just made it in,” Lapido said.
“It was difficult, but because it was a special occasion, we made it work,” said mother of the bride Sheryl Ellis.
COVID-19 meant that Ellis took a measured approach to planning, with temperature checks at the door, masks, and mingling at a distance.
“We had 112 people, but the room sits about 400,” Ellis said.
“Luckily, she picked this date, because as of tomorrow, we go down to 50 people,” said Carla Hanzi of Dynasty Banquets.
Dynasty Banquets is now planning for less business.
“Weddings, quinceañeras, they had different church events that used to happen – big, 400 people,” Hanzi said. “They had them moved to next year.”
And that is by mandate, not by choice.
“To me, safety is first,” Hanzi said.
“The thing is, people stay here a lot longer than they do in a restaurant, so it’s give and take,” Hanzi said.
The banquet hall is saving money where it can now – taking in smaller groups, but expecting the financial fallout to be big.
But unlike in Illinois, Indiana has no limits on indoor dining at restaurants. Still, businesses are encouraged to space out tables and enforce mask rules.
Some restaurants have already opted to pivot strictly to carry-out. The new restrictions, along with a mask mandate, are in place until at least Dec. 12.
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