Governor Holcomb Announces Roadmap To Safely Reopen Indiana

(INDIANAPOLIS) – Governor Eric J. Holcomb today announced the Back On Track Indiana plan to safely open the economy and remain vigilant about protecting Hoosiers’ health and wellbeing. This plan is aimed at “having Indiana back on track by July 4.”

Holcomb said the state has been in “stage one” of its coronavirus-fighting plan and over the next few weeks, will begin to move into stage two on a region-by-region basis.

“Across Indiana, we have witnessed a spirit of cooperation and caring for others that has touched my heart. May this spirit of appreciation for one another carry on long after the scourge of COVID-19 is behind us,” Gov. Holcomb said. “Hoosiers have done this together and together we will come out a stronger Indiana.”

Gov. Holcomb has used data to drive decisions since the state’s first case of the novel coronavirus in early March and he will continue to do so as the state contemplates a sector-by-sector reset. The state will move to reopen while continuing to monitor and respond to these four guiding principles:

  • The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide has decreased for 14 days
  • The state retains its surge capacity for critical care beds and ventilators
  • The state retains its ability to test all Hoosiers who are COVID-19 symptomatic as well as health care workers, first responders, and frontline employees
  • Health officials have systems in place to contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and expand contact tracing

As restrictions are lifted and more people return to work, visit a store or restaurant, and participate in more activities, the number of COVID-19 cases will increase. If we cannot meet these principles, all or portions of the state may need to pause on moving forward or we may return to an earlier phase of the governor’s stay-at-home order.

Indiana Back On Track has five stages. Beginning Monday, May 4, nearly all of Indiana will move to stage 2. For three counties – Cass, Lake and Marion counties – stage 2 will begin at a later date. Phase 2 may begin on Monday, May 11 for Lake and Marion counties. Phase 2 may begin on Monday, May 18 for Cass County. Local governments may impose more restrictive guidelines.

Here’s what will and won’t be allowed under stage two:

  • Hoosiers 65 and over and those with high-risk health conditions who are the most susceptible to the coronavirus should remain at home as much as possible
  • Local governments may impose more strict guidelines
  • Essential travel restrictions are eliminated and gatherings of up to 25 people are permitted
  • The remaining manufacturers, industrial and other infrastructure operations that had not been considered essential may open. Hoosiers who can work from home are encouraged to continue to do so.
  • Retail and commercial businesses will open at 50 percent capacity. Examples include apparel, furniture, jewelry, and liquor stores that have been operating as curbside or delivery only. Shopping malls can open at 50% capacity with indoor common areas restricted to 25% capacity.
  • Shopping malls may open at 50 percent capacity with indoor common areas restricted to 25 percent capacity
  • Personal services like hair salons barber shops, spas, and tattoo parlors also may open May 11 by appointment only
  • Restaurants and bars that serve food may open starting May 11 at 50% capacity, but bar seating will remain closed. Personal services such as hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, spas, and tattoo parlors also may open on May 11th by appointment only and must follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Those who work in offices are encouraged to work remotely whenever possible. “If anyone can work from home we encourage you to do so,” Holcomb said.
  • Starting May 8 for all 92 counties, Indiana worship services may also convene following specific social distancing guidelines. Those 65 and over and those at elevated risk will be asked to stay home.

“Church leaders: we need you to keep your congregations safe,” Holcomb said.

If health indicators remain positive, the state will move to stage 3.

At that time, the state restrictions will allow:

  • Individuals at risk, including those over 65 may venture out cautiously
  • Those who can work remotely should continue to do so
  • Social gatherings up to 100 people may occur
  • Retail stores and malls can move to 75% capacity
  • Playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, pools, campgrounds, gyms, fitness centers and more may reopen with restrictions and social distancing

“While we’re hopeful that we have the momentum to move into this stage later in May, we will be cautious and make the best decisions for Hoosiers based on the situation at that very moment,” Holcomb said.

If still on track on June 14, the state will advance to stage 4, which will make face coverings optional, allow social gatherings of up to 250 people, reopen large venues and state buildings, and increase retail stores and malls to full capacity. Recreational sports, leagues, and tournaments may also resume in stage four, and restaurants can open at 75% capacity.

By July 4, Holcomb said he hopes the state will enter stage five.

“Even in stage five, we will continue to do social distancing,” he said.

At that time, the state will determine how to proceed with the upcoming school year.

“As life starts to slowly return to that new normal, making progress towards being fully back on track will require constant vigilance from all of us as we lift restrictions and more people return to work, visit a store or restaurant and participate in more activities,” Holcomb said.

Any easing of Indiana’s statewide stay-at-home order won’t limit the authority of city or county officials from imposing tighter restrictions in their attempts to slow the coronavirus that is blamed in the deaths of at least 1,000 people across the state, the governor said.

Indianapolis Restrictions

Indianapolis officials extended the city’s stay-at-home order on Thursday by two weeks through May 15, saying the state’s largest city was still experiencing too many COVID-19 cases to safely relax restrictions. Some other cities and counties around the state also have adopted rules responding to outbreaks in their communities.

Holcomb said he supported Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s decision and that the new state order wouldn’t strip away local authority.

“Local jurisdictions can always be stricter than what we have said,” Holcomb said. “This has been the case, not just once, in the state of Indiana. We’ll seek to 100% of the time work with those local officials.”

The Indianapolis stay-at-home order will continue a ban on dine-in service at restaurants and the closure of nonessential businesses such as movie theaters, fitness centers, and hair salons.

The city has nearly one-third of both Indiana’s COVID-19 deaths and confirmed infections and not enough slowdown in new cases to make resuming normal activity in large venues and densely populated neighborhoods, Hogsett said.

Unemployment Benefits

About 57,000 more people applied for unemployment benefits in Indiana last week as the state continues to see record numbers of newly jobless people stemming from the COVID-19 economic slowdown.

Answers to frequently asked questions and instructions to file for COVID-19-related unemployment are available at Unemployment.IN.gov.

More information

To learn more about the different stages and the associated dates to get a better understanding about where we’re going as a state, click here to see the full plan: BackOnTrack.in.gov

The Governor will sign executive orders implementing the plan. The executive orders will be posted at this link: https://www.in.gov/gov/2384.htm

Click here to read the Governor’s remarks from today: https://backontrack.in.gov/files/05.01.2020_Governor%20Holcomb%20remarks_Getting%20Indiana%20Back%20on%20Track_public….pdf

The Critical Industries Hotline continues to be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday to respond to business and industry questions about whether a business is considered essential. The center may be reached by calling 877-820-0890 or by emailing covidresponse@iedc.in.gov

Answers to frequently asked questions and instructions to file for COVID-19-related unemployment are available at Unemployment.IN.gov.

More information may be found on the ISDH website and the CDC website.

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