One might argue that a “mandate” means little in the absence of a will to enforce; this being duly noted, today the state of Indiana relaxes most of the COVID-related protocols pertaining to small business establishments — or, as this statewide disengagement pertains to Food & Dining Magazine’s primary reason for being, Hoosier restaurants and bars are again being allowed to go maskless, pack their joints, put more butts in seats, and decide for themselves just how social a given distance must be.

These COVID matters are now being referred to as “advisories,” with a caveat: local governmental entities may press stronger measures, and so can individual establishments. Consequently I spent Monday evening browsing social media, looking for trends among the hospitality industry posts.

It’s tough to generalize, but it appears that precedent will inform policy; those eateries and watering holes shakily/angrily honoring the previous “mandates” (often in the breach) will reopen to pre-March 2020 standards, while those more publicly rigorous about their own interpretations of pandemic science will continue their more stringent house protocols.

As for Indiana’s cessation of COVID-related guidance, Governor Eric Holcomb asked residents to respect individualized rules.

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 about COVID restrictions for their operations and should be afforded the respect, compliance and understanding of all who visit them. When I visit my favorite restaurants or conduct a public event, I will continue to appropriately wear a mask, it’s the right thing to do.

In essence, in Indiana the ball now rests in John Q. Public’s court. At WAVE-3, Elizabeth Pace has an excellent, succinct summary.

Photo credit: Nighthawks, by Edward Hopper, at Wikipedia.