Anyone in Indiana who's 16 or older will be eligible to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine on March 31, so long as the expected uptick in doses administered to the state by the federal government happens as planned, according to Gov. Eric Holcomb.
Indiana expects to soon receive a "large increase" in the volume of vaccine supply it has on hand, Holcomb said in a press conference today. Provided that happens, eligibility will expand from the current 40-or-older threshold.
In April, the state will open additional mass-vaccination clinics, like the one it will host at the University of Notre Dame this weekend, to handle the increased number of people demanding vaccine doses.
"Face coverings will remain mandatory in all state buildings and facilities and in all vaccination and COVID testing sites until further notice," Holcomb said.
The state also intends to implement a robust "employer vaccination program" in April, according to Holcomb.
More than 21,000 people in Tippecanoe County have been fully vaccinated as of today's data from the Indiana State Department of Health.
With the state's expanded vaccine eligibility comes the easing of restrictions on capacity in businesses and the removal of a statewide face-covering mandate.
Two weeks from now on April 6, decisions about venue capacity will be delegated to local officials and business owners, Holcomb said.
"Customers in restaurants, bars and nightclubs will no longer be required by the state to be seated," Holcomb said. Six feet of spacing between tables will persist as a recommendation.
Restaurants in Tippecanoe County are open at 100%, per local health department restrictions, but guidelines currently state that patrons must be seated while being served.
The statewide mask mandate will become a "mask advisory" on April 6, Holcomb said. Local governments retain the power to institute more stringent guidelines, and color-coded metrics will still be tracked by the state health department to counsel local officials.
The West Lafayette City Council extended its mask mandate to July earlier this month.
"When I visit my favorite restaurant or conduct a public event, I will continue to wear a mask,” Holcomb said. “It is the right thing to do. Hoosiers who take these recommended precautions will help us get to what I hope is the tail end of this pandemic.”
The state public health emergency will be renewed for the month of April, Holcomb said, meaning the state can "act quickly if conditions take a turn for the worse." This emergency status also keeps accessible to the state hundreds of millions of federal dollars in COVID-19 relief.