Indy warns fines coming for virus rules violations

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis businesses not following the city’s coronavirus restrictions will face a greater chance of fines as officials said Tuesday that they will ramp up enforcement.

State health officials added 25 more COVID-19 fatalities to Indiana’s death toll as the state’s average number of newly recorded coronavirus infections continued its recent growth.

Indianapolis response

Bars and nightclubs will remain closed in the state’s largest city as Marion County Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine said those ages 20-29 represented fastest-growing age group for new COVID-19 infections during July.

Mayor Joe Hogsett said several businesses flouted the city’s rules on crowd sizes, distancing and face masks over the weekend. In one instance, the Indianapolis Speedrome race track on the city’s east side was issued a $1,000 fine for exceeding the 25% capacity limit with crowded stands for its Saturday night races.

“The time for warnings is over,” Hogsett said. “The sight of spectators at a venue packing the stands without masks is beyond discouraging.”

Face masks have been required in all indoor public places in Indianapolis since July 9 and most restaurants are limited to half capacity for diners.

Health department inspectors will begin issuing $1,000 fines against violators, Caine said.

“We take this seriously. We know that we’ve got to step up our enforcement,” Caine said. “The education and the warning period is over.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a statewide face mask mandate that took effect July 27 but has left enforcement to state and county health departments.

Caine said a new public health order would allow high school football games to start this month in Indianapolis, although a maximum 250 people will be allowed in the stands and all fans will be required to wear masks.

Virus spread

The latest reported COVID-19 deaths raise to 3,069 the number of people in Indiana who have died with confirmed or presumed coronavirus infections since mid-March, according to the state health department. Most of the new fatalities occurred between Thursday and Monday.

State statistics show that Indiana hospitals have been treated more than 900 patients with the COVID-19 respiratory disease each day since Aug. 2. Indiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have grown by more than 50% since late June, while the seven-day average of newly confirmed coronavirus infections has more than doubled during that time to the 947 average cases mark set Monday.

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