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This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

NEW ALBANY — Bars in Floyd County must close by 10 p.m. and restaurants have to reduce capacity to 75% based on an order issued Tuesday by the county’s health officer.

Bar spaces within restaurants must also close by 10 p.m. based on the order issued by Floyd County Health Officer Dr. Tom Harris.

“The intent of this order is to continue to provide a safe environment for all people in Floyd County, and avoid the spread of COVID-19,” Harris said in a news release. “This will protect public health in Floyd County.”

The order will remain in effect until at least Dec. 21.

Harris said he coordinated the order with Clark County and expects its health department to issue a similar declaration.

As for the 10 p.m. cutoff, Harris said there have been studies that showed an increased likelihood of spreading the virus the later a bar is open.

“We’re talking about people who are becoming intoxicated, they’re close to other people with no mask and they’re smoking and sharing cigarettes,” Harris said.

Based on an executive order issued Friday by Gov. Eric Holcomb, health departments have enforcement measures at their disposal for businesses that don’t comply with COVID-19 restrictions.

A business will receive a verbal warning if they’re not in compliance. A second failure to comply will result in a written warning and the health department can issue a cease-and-desist order following a third violation. The department can close a business for subsequent violations and refer them to a local prosecutor.

Harris said the intent of Tuesday’s order isn’t to hamper businesses, but he added that with climbing rates of COVID-19 positivity, the health department decided to act.

Floyd County was labeled as an Orange County on the state’s color-coded zoning map as of Tuesday. Orange counties are defined as places where community spread of COVID-19 is “approaching high levels” and is the third highest of the four designations.

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