The Tippecanoe County Health Department order restricting county bars, restaurants, and nightclubs could remain in effect as Indiana moves into Stage 5 of the state’s Back On Track reopening plan this weekend.
“That order was done in case we went to Stage 5,” said health department administrator Khala Hochstedler. “Now we’re going to have to decide if we’re going to amend the health officer’s order based on this Stage 5, and we’re still talking through that.”
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s announcement Wednesday lifts capacity restrictions on bars and restaurants, but still calls for bar patrons to remain seated and for restaurants to allow for social distancing.
Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler said at Wednesday’s coronavirus press briefing -- which concluded before Holcomb’s announcement -- that the health department was considering modifying the county’s health order guideline closing most establishments at midnight.
Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said he was hoping for a switch to a one a.m. closing time “shortly.” Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tracy Brown said local restaurants and businesses were suffering financially under the order’s rules.
“I absolutely appreciate Dr. Adler’s -- his position as to where we are right now, but I’d like to be able to kind of look out into the future and just ask that question: where do we have to be before we go to a one a.m, or before we go to a lifting of the occupancy restrictions?” Brown said.
Adler cited a “significant increase” in the rise of county case totals in recent weeks -- currently at an all-time high average of 31.6 new cases per day -- but also said about two-thirds of recent cases could be attributed to Purdue students. Adler also said while the department was monitoring whether cases among Purdue students had spread into the broader community, there was no evidence of that trend yet.
“We don’t want to give the impression, though, that Purdue is, in some way, not a part of our community -- that it doesn’t affect the rest of the community,” said Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler. “We think it does.”