Mask mandate to become advisory on April 6

NOW: Mask mandate to become advisory on April 6

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Governor Holcomb shared an update to the state’s response to COVID-19 exactly one year after he issued his first stay at home order. The address announced all Hoosiers over the age of 16 will be eligible for the vaccine as of March 31st.

Starting April 6th the mask mandate will become just an advisory and while this doesn’t mean the pandemic is over it’s another step towards normalcy.

“It could’ve been an incremental approach which could’ve been much safer and instead that abdicates the responsibility to make those difficult decisions and play the bad cop frankly left to the local health departments," said Dr. Mark Fox.

Despite the change, face coverings will still be required in government buildings, vaccination sites, and schools. Local businesses and governments --- will have the choice to keep or remove mask policies in place.

“So whether that is a bank, branch, lobby, on the factory floor or a county courthouse or city hall. They retain the authority to make decisions on COVID restrictions for their operations," said Governor Holcomb.

Although the mandate will transition to an advisory - Governor Holcomb says masks are still recommended whenever social distancing is not possible.

“Hoosiers that take these recommended precautions will help us get to what I hope is the tail end of this pandemic," said Holcomb.

The Governor also opening COVID vaccines to all Hoosiers age 16 and over as of March 31st—when federal allotments to states are supposed to rise dramatically.

And while some pandemic precautions will be in place Dr. Mark Fox at the St. Joseph County Health Department says these changes won’t allow things to go back to normal as quickly as they‘re being implemented.

“You know it’s great to open up access to vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and over, but we don’t have the capacity to vaccinate all of them in the 5 or 6 days before we return the wild west and throw everything back open," said Fox.

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