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Doctor weighs in after announcement of statewide mask mandate becomes an advisory in April

Mask mandate lifted
Posted at 7:23 PM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 19:23:07-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the statewide mask mandate will be lifted on April 6.

Masks will still be recommended when gathering in public, but they will not be required. Local governments and business owners will make their own decisions regarding mask requirements.

Some have said lifting the mandate is a sign of progress and hope, while others fear this could cause a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Masks have become the new normal in Indiana and even some local business owners have said the mask mandate hasn’t been an issue with her customers.

“If they don't have one I've got paper masks here and I hand them out for free, so yeah it's been pretty good,” Jennifer McDaniel, owner of Artisans on Mass Ave. said.

Business owners may not have to do that anymore though when the statewide mandate is lifted.

“From my perspective anything relating to a mandate needs to be based on the overall risk of the population which we know is decreasing at this point,” Dr. Cole Beeler with IU Health, said. “If you are someone who is at risk, if you're someone who has to be around large groups, now is not the time to stop wearing a mask. You should make the individual decision to wear a mask when you are exposed to those high-risk situations, however, if you are someone who has been vaccinated I don't think it makes a whole lot of sense to have to wear a mask with the current epidemiology.”

He said it is important to be flexible though, as that could change.

“I might tell you a completely different story in a month if people aren't wearing their masks and then we start seeing a fourth wave. If the epidemiology changes then I might sing a different tune and say, hey we really need to start wearing our masks again,” Beeler added.

That is why some said they are not ready to ditch their mask just yet.

“There is still COVID, so people are still getting sick,” Susan Collins, of Indianapolis, said. “I’d like to be safe for a little while longer because of all the variants.”

Others have said while they personally feel safe without their mask, they plan to keep wearing it for the safety and comfort of others.

“I will probably continue to wear a mask. I'm going to have my second shot next week, but I just think for the comfort of my customers just to make sure they're safe I will continue to. If it's not mandatory I probably will not require them to,” McDaniel said.

The Marion County Public Health Department is expected to give an update on their plans for the mask mandate during a press briefing Thursday morning.