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Bars partially re-open in Indiana

NOW: Bars partially re-open in Indiana

MISHAWAKA, Ind. - Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb put the state ahead of schedule on his Back on Track Indiana plan, opening phase four on Friday instead of the originally planned Monday. That allowed bars to open at 50% capacity and restaurants to open their bar seating at 50% capacity. It's something bar owners and managers said they've been looking forward to for a long time.

"Well it's been a little hectic because you're not sure how everything's going to be, but it hasn't been too bad," said Squirrel, a manager at Absolutely in Mishawaka. "We're all excited. We're excited to get back to a normal living."

Squirrel also said she is relieved to allow patrons back into the bar because she said going multiple months without bar service was "hell" because of the constant changing of rules and regulations. She went on to say all that time was difficult because Absolutely had barely been open for a month when the Pandemic hit Michiana, forcing it to close down. She also said preparing for Friday was difficult, but she is looking forward to the future.

"Well it's been a little hectic because you're not sure how everything's going to be, but it hasn't been too bad," Squirrel said. "We're all excited. We're excited to get back to a normal living."

Across the street from Absolutely sits Phoenix Bar and Grill. Its manager, Adam Penzenik, said Friday was a good test to prepare for what he was sure to be a busy weekend.

"I expect to be very busy," Penzenik said. "With the governor pushing back the stage four requirements a couple of extra days early, we were able to get a couple bands lined up for this weekend."

One member of those bands said it's not just bars and patrons that are affected by Indiana's early start to Phase Four. Mickey Lytell said he and his fellow band members were not able to perform at bars when they were closed because of the pandemic and were not eligible for unemployment benefits. He said Friday could not have come sooner.

"The bottom fell out overnight, just like that, and for it to start coming back, it's great because this is what we do," Lytell said. "I can't really say enough about that. It's been a long dry spell, and for us to get back here, we're psyched. We're pumped."

The fifth and final phase of Governor Holcomb's Back on Track Indiana plan is set to begin on the Fourth of July.

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