HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WFFT) -- Huntington County is in orange status with COVID-19, with can upward trending positivity rate according to the Indiana State Department of Health COVID dashboard
This is why Huntington Mayor Richard Strick has signed a new executive order to help slow the spread of COVID-19 within city limits.
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In the new executive order, capacity at bars and restaurants are limited to 50%, with bar seating currently limited to 25%.
Live music and karaoke are not allowed during the time the county is in the orange status.
For John Stoeckly, the owner of The Country Post restaurant, he says his revenue has dropped 30% during the pandemic, and while he chose to reduce capacity to 50% earlier in the month, he's struggling.
Stoeckley explained, "Our staff depends quite heavily on our customers coming in and we're trying to juggle everything to make sure those people are taken care of as well as our customers."
To help ease the burden, the new measures include with the City is calling their "Making Space Initiative", which makes grants available to local bars and restaurants to help expand their outdoor seating with things like awnings and heaters so people can still dine out while the business prioritizes carry-out service.
The new executive order also says if someone isn't wearing a mask, police can write them a warning, with a $25 fine for the second offense. That amount goes up by $50 for each offense thereafter. Strick explains it isn't a strict enforcement.
"Just as with any other civil infraction, our law enforcement members have complete discretion in conversations with community members on when to apply a civil infraction to an incident or not," Strick said. "There is a clear progression, as needed. We hope it won't come to that."
Stoeckley thinks the new mask orders will help, but doesn't love the idea of refusing service to non-mask wearers, as suggested by the mayor's new measures. He said, "You hate to turn people away, but that's what they want us to do and that's what we have to do."
These new restrictions are also guided by what's happening in the hospital. Parkview Huntington President Juli Johnson says critical staff are running short due to COVID-19 exposures, and it's imperitive the medical facilites are kept open.
"That's why we're just so strongly asking our community to make sure that you're masking up and following the guidelines because we need to be able to keep our people healthy so that we can care for all of the others in this community," Johnson said.
While some may not agree with the new measures, Strick says the new measures were passed by city council amd for now, the law is on his side.
"Executive orders, whether from a Mayor, Governor, or President, have the full enforcement power of the law until expired or revoked by the executive or a court deems it unlawful," Strick said.
You can view a quick guide of the new measures below. For further questions, head to the City of Huntington website.