Restaurants, other businesses reopen in parts of Indiana

As many restaurants resumed in-person dining and some hair salons began reopening around Indiana on Monday, state officials said most businesses have been following restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus spread.

The state issued its first order last week against a business after its owner was set to reopen sooner than allowed under state regulations that are gradually being eased, said Joseph Heerens, chief counsel of the governor’s office.

State officials have investigated 1,458 complaints about businesses violating state regulations since late March, finding about 90% unfounded, Heerens said. Those others have been resolved after discussions with the businesses, he said.

The owner of a small race track in rural western Indiana said he received the cease-and-desist letter from the state and county officials placed barricades across the road to block his plans to host races Saturday night.

Michael Daugherty, who owns Daugherty Speedway near Boswell, said he had already decided to call off the races when the concrete barriers and locked metal barricades went up Friday.

“It felt like they were trying to bully and intimidate me,” Daugherty told the (Lafayette) Journal and Courier. “I shouldn’t have to stand for that.”

Benton County commissioners President Mike Freeland the county wasn’t keen on attracting race drivers from as far away as New York and Michigan — “Where they’re having some real problems with this.”

The state reopening plan released May 1 by Gov. Eric Holcomb allowed restaurants in most of Indiana on Monday to resume in-person dining at 50% capacity in addition to carry out and drive-through service. Hair salons and barber shops could reopen with spaced-out work stations and employees wearing face masks.

Such businesses remain closed in Indianapolis, northwestern Indiana’s Lake County and rural northern Indiana’s Cass County, where a large coronavirus outbreak infected hundreds of Tyson meatpacking plant workers.

Holcomb said businesses and the public needed to keep abiding by health guidelines even as his plan aims to gradually ease rules with the goal of allowing nearly all activities to resume on July 4.

“This is not going to be July 4th — it’s over, we’re there, we’re done,” Holcomb said. “This will be with us for the foreseeable future.”


Another 32 Indiana residents have died from coronavirus illnesses, raising the state’s death toll from confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 to 1,540, state health officials said Monday.

More than half of Indiana’s new confirmed COVID-19 deaths occurred on Saturday and Sunday, boosting the state’s confirmed pandemic deaths to 1,411, according to statistics released by the Indiana State Department of Health. The state agency’s statistics show that another 129 Hoosiers have died from probable infections of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

Indiana’s weekly update of pandemic deaths at the state’s nursing homes, released each Monday, shows that deaths in those homes increased from 420 to 584 in a week. That number is now 38% of Indiana’s toll from both confirmed and presumed COVID-19 deaths.