TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLF) - Restaurants, bars and nightclubs in Tippecanoe County will soon have a local mandate they need to follow. The Tippecanoe County Health Department announced this new mandate Wednesday at its bi-weekly press conference.
Governor Eric Holcomb has made it clear that local health departments and municipalities can enforce their own rules during this pandemic. We saw this a few weeks ago when West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis created a mask mandate for the city.
This new mandate is the Tippecanoe County Health Department's way of being proactive as Purdue students move back to town. Should the governor choose to advance the state to stage 5 in his Back on track Indiana plan, this mandate in Tippecanoe County would supersede the stage 5 plans for food and beverage establishments. This is the first mandate the health department has given that has the potential to contradict the state's orders.
Starting on Friday, August 14th all restaurants will operate at 75% capacity. All bars and clubs will operate at 50% capacity. There will only be table top service, and no bar top service. All dance floors will be closed, and all restaurants, bars and clubs will close at midnight. This also includes establishments that don't serve alcohol and 24-hour drive through services offered at some fast food restaurants.
The catalyst for this mandate is Purdue students returning to West Lafayette. However, County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler said it is important that the rules be the same for everyone in the county, regardless of location.
"To be fair, it needs to be applied to all restaurant and bars in the county," he said. "Purdue students can easily go to an restaurant or bar in the county and are not just patronizing restaurants and bars that are immediately around campus."
West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis and Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski both voiced their support.
"It's the right thing for the right reasons at the right time," said Mayor Dennis. "I could not be more excited about it and I could not be more enthusiastically supportive of it."
"I think it's a good step and we'll just have to continue to watch the numbers and be able to adapt and make decisions as we go," said Mayor Roswarski.
Currently there is no expiration date for this mandate. Dr. Adler said they are reviewing data daily to make adjustments.
Dr. Adler also explained the enforcement and punishment part of this mandate. Establishments who violate the order on their first offense will get a written warning, a fine for the second offense, and will have their permit taken away third.
Purdue University spokesperson Tim Doty also sent News 18 a statement of support on behalf of the university.
"We strongly support the Tippecanoe County Health Department's updated guidelines for local bars and establishments. Like Mayor Dennis' mask mandate, Dr. Adler's order can play a major role in limiting the incidence of the COVID-19 virus and enabling our community to move back toward full economic and social life as soon as possible."