All Hoosiers age 16 and older can schedule COVID-19 vaccinations beginning March 31.
And as Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that expansion in a statewide address Tuesday, he also said he will end the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, beginning April 6.
Holcomb defended the vaccine eligibility plan the state has used up to now – its focus was to reduce hospitalizations and deaths by focusing on those most at risk: older Hoosiers and, eventually, those with comorbidities.
But after gradually moving down in age by five-year increments for weeks, Holcomb is ready to open appointments to everyone.
“Earlier today, our federal partners told states to expect large increases in the amount of vaccine that will be flowing to us, beginning the last week in March,” Holcomb said.
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All Hoosiers who can get the COVID-19 vaccine – that’s anyone age 16 and older - can begin scheduling their appointments on Wednesday, March 31. They can do so by visiting OurShot.IN.gov or by calling 211 on that day.
On April 6, the day after the NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship is played in Indiana, the state will no longer limit gatherings or require mask-wearing.
Instead, Holcomb said, Indiana will have a mask “advisory,” though masks will still be required in state government buildings, COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites, and K-12 schools.
“When I visit my favorite restaurants or conduct a public event, I will continue to appropriately wear a mask," Holcomb said. "It’s the right thing to do.”
The state will no longer require restaurants, bars and nightclubs to keep customers spaced six feet apart or seated, though Holcomb said businesses should keep COVID response plans that include safeguards.
And the governor noted local governments and private businesses can still impose restrictions.
“Ladies and gentlemen, as we continue to do these few things, the light at the end of the tunnel becomes brighter and brighter,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb pointed to significant declines in the number of COVID-19 cases per day, hospitalizations, daily deaths and positivity rate to support his decision to eliminate restrictions.
The state’s public health emergency declaration will remain in place through April. Holcomb said that will allow the state to pivot, if cases take a turn for the worse. It also ensures Indiana still has access to federal relief.