COVID-19 Community Task Force to meet Friday to discuss Holcomb pandemic plans

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop along with officials from Columbus Regional Health, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., and Bartholomew County government hold a press conference to announce recommendations by the Columbus and Bartholomew County COVID-19 Community Task Force at Columbus City Hall in Columbus, Ind., Friday, March 13, 2020. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The COVID-19 Community Task Force will meet Friday morning to discuss the local measures in place in response to the pandemic after Gov. Eric Holcomb announced plans to lift the statewide mask mandate and remaining restrictions in two weeks.

In a Tuesday evening speech, Holcomb said the state’s steep declines in coronavirus hospitalization and deaths rates, along with the growing number of people fully vaccinated, justify the steps starting April 6.

Additionally, all Indiana residents age 16 and up will be eligible for vaccines on March 31, Holcomb said.

After April 6, decisions about venue capacity and social gatherings will be made by local officials. Customers in restaurants, bars and nightclubs will no longer be required by the state to be seated. Six feet of spacing between tables and other seating will still be recommended as is spacing between non-household parties.

However, Holcomb said local officials still have the authority to impose tougher restrictions in response to COVID-19 in their communities and that face mask use would still be required in K-12 schools for rest of this school year.

He urged residents to continue wearing masks in public and that bars and restaurants continue to space out their tables, according to wire reports.

Locally, Columbus Regional Health will continue to require masks at its facilities and that the governor’s announcement “doesn’t change anything we’re going to do as an organization,” said CRH spokeswoman Kelsey DeClue.

For more on this story, see Thursday’s Republic.