UPDATE, 8/13/20: The Tippecanoe County Health Department has issued a revised version of this order. Restaurant drive-throughs -- and curbside and delivery service -- are exempt from the order, as long as those services continue to operate under COVID-19 mitigation guidelines. (The order includes bars and nightclubs in that stipulation.) In-person dining can resume at restaurants at 5 a.m. Bars and nightclubs can open "as permitted by applicable regulatory authority".
Starting Friday, all Tippecanoe County bars, restaurants, and nightclubs will operate under new restrictions from the county health department.
“We don’t want this order to be in place any longer than it needs to be in place, but it’s hard to predict right now how long it would need to stay in place,” said Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler. “We just don’t know what direction COVID-19 is going to take here in our community over the next several weeks, next several months.”
The health officer’s order, issued Wednesday, limits these venues to table-top service only; no bar top service is allowed, and customers must remain seated. Dance floors are closed, and sections with games -- such as darts, pinball, and billiards -- will only be open to those actively playing. And all establishments will be closed to customers by midnight, be it a West Lafayette bar or a restaurant drive-through.
The order also keeps the current statewide capacity for these types of venues in place even if Gov. Eric Holcomb moves Indiana into Stage 5 of the state’s back on track plan at the end of August. Restaurants remain capped at 75%, and bars will stay 50% full.
Adler said the health department had enforcement power over the establishments in the order.
“The first step, of course, will be a polite reminder with a written reminder -- written warning,” Adler said. “The second step would involve a citation with a fine, and then the third step could, if necessary, involve revoking an establishment’s permit. We hope to not need to do that.”
Tippecanoe County’s COVID-19 case total Wednesday was 1,245, and the highest share of those cases stayed in the 20-29 year-old age range at 23.3%. Purdue University students return to class Aug. 24, and officials at Wednesday’s coronavirus press briefing addressed how student gatherings off-campus -- not just at bars -- could be handled. West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis said the city had experience responding to residents who reported “disruptive” student behavior in the neighborhoods around the university.
“Some of the residential folks are patient, and tolerant, and some are not,” Dennis said. “But with the new world of COVID, I think that we’re going to be getting a lot more notifications, and our enforcement personnel -- both police, fire, and neighborhood resource teams -- are acclimated to respond accordingly.”
Purdue University also announced Wednesday the first round of COVID-19 testing results from the almost 40,000 students headed to West Lafayette this month. Currently, less than one percent of the 15,444 students whose results have been processed tested positive for the novel coronavirus.