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Hamilton County issues stricter COVID-19 restrictions to take effect Wednesday

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Posted at 4:34 PM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 16:34:47-05

NOBLESVILLE — The recent surge in COVID-19 cases and associated hospitalizations in Hamilton County has prompted county health officials to issue stricter guidelines to fight the ongoing public health emergency, officials said Monday.

The new guidelines from the Hamilton County Health Department go into effect at midnight on Wednesday.

"The Governor's orders identify minimum levels for high exposure settings like social gatherings or events," Dr. Charles Harris, health officer for the Hamilton County Health Department, said. "This order establishes stricter limits for our county based on the state's color-coding metrics for each county."

Hamilton County currently falls under orange on the state's color-coding metrics.

If Hamilton County is under orange (for moderate to high transmission level):

  • The Hamilton County Health Department will not approve any safety plans for social gatherings of more than 250 people.
  • Organizers of social gatherings and events at venues with multiple, clearly separate areas, such as banquet rooms, conference rooms, or multiple sports fields, must submit a safety plan for each separate area up to a maximum of 250 individuals per gathering or event.

If Hamilton County is under red (for very high transmission level):

  • The Hamilton County Health Department will not approve any safety plans for social gatherings of more than 100 people.
  • Organizers of social gatherings and events at venues with multiple, clearly separate areas, such as banquet rooms, conference rooms, or multiple sports fields, must submit a safety plan for each separate area up to a maximum of 100 individuals per gathering or event.

The health department also said that venues are responsible for ensuring attendees at separate social gatherings do not comingle and that attendees at each gathering have separate designated restroom facilities. The venue must also ensure six feet of social distancing between tables as well as between individuals or household units sitting at the same table.

The organizer or host of a social gathering must also maintain a list of event attendees and their phone numbers for up to 21 days following the social gathering for contact tracing purposes.

The Hamilton County health order also restricts attendance at community recreational sports leagues and tournaments (including participants, personnel, and spectators) to 250 people if Hamilton county is under orange and to 100 people if Hamilton County is red.

If Hamilton County is under red:

  • Restaurants, bars, taverns, nightclubs and other establishments providing in-person food and drink service must limit capacity to 50% of indoor capacity.
  • Restaurants, bars, taverns, nightclubs and other establishments providing in-person food and drink service must be closed and cleared of customers between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. to perform enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
  • Restaurants, bars, taverns, nightclubs and other establishments providing in-person food and drink service will only be allowed to seat customers at tables. Bar seating will be closed.

As part of the Hamilton County restrictions, table seating will be limited to six people per table and tables must be spaced at least six feet away from one another. Self-service food stations (buffets, salad bars, etc.) will be banned unless a staff member serves patrons. Outdoor tent seating will only be permitted if the tent has at least two open-air sides for ventilation.

Also if Hamilton County is under red:

  • Gyms, exercise, and fitness centers (including yoga studios, dance studios, karate studios, martial arts studios, and other similar fitness centers) must limit capacity to 50%.
  • Cultural, entertainment, and tourism sites (including museums, music venues, auction venues, flea market, and parks) must limit capacity to 50%.
  • All other non-essential entertainment businesses (including movie theaters, bowling alleys, trampoline parks, boating and marina facilities, and rock wall climbing facilities) must limit capacity to 50%.
  • Personal service businesses (including salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas, microblading and tattoo parlors) may remain by appointment. Face coverings may be removed for beard trimming or as required to complete the service.

The health department also said that K-12 schools will be allowed to manage and implement their own plans for maintaining education services, so long as they utilize effective and appropriate measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.