GREENWOOD — As Indiana’s statewide mask mandate turns into an advisory on Tuesday, April 6, it leaves many local cities and counties to decide what they’re going to do to protect people from COVID-19.
In Johnson County, they will be sticking with Gov. Holcomb's latest orders and not implementing any greater restrictions. Starting Tuesday, there will not be a local requirement for face masks in public or anymore capacity restrictions.
However, restaurants like Oaken Barrel Brewing in Greenwood said, "Not so fast."
“I just wish they would’ve kept the mandate for a few more months, end of May,” Oaken Barrel Brewing owner, Kwang Casey, said. “Until we get the herd immunity. When I heard that they were lifting the mask mandate, I was a little nervous.”
Casey said he’s had many sleepless nights throughout the pandemic, having to close his restaurant at one point.
“I don’t want to go through that again,” Casey said. “I wish we would just take a baby steps and gradually open the doors instead of lifting the mandate.”
That’s why he’s decided to still require face masks walking in and out of his brewery despite the county no longer requiring them.
“Not all of our employees are vaccinated,” Casey said. “Now if I had 100% of my employees vaccinated then I would feel more comfortable. They are in close contact with people and taking orders and talking to customers. I just want to make sure that they’re safe and I want our customers to be safe as well.”
“As far as walking in and out no I don’t have a problem with that at all,” Sandy Gosser said.
Gosser explained although she’s been vaccinated, “I will continue to wear a mask because to protect other people. From what I hear, you can still carry the virus so I will use a mask to protect others.”
In Johnson County, the health department is still encouraging businesses to continue asking customers to wear face masks.
“It’s truly up to the business owner,” Betsy Swearingen, Johnson County Health Department Director, said. “I know that the police are not enforcing it. But they will come if they have an unruly patron that refuses to adhere to the wishes of the management they will come and they will take care of the customers that way.”
Swearingen said they can no longer use code enforcement. It’s police who will only get involved if a customer doesn’t follow a business’ wishes.
“It’s the discretion of the management to decide what they want and we will like I said continue to encourage our restaurants and all of our big box stores in our grocery stores and anyone who owns a business to ask the patrons to wear a mask,” Swearingen said.
“We just want to ask the community to keep supporting us and be patient with us just a few more months," Casey said.