Holcomb shares process for reopening economy

Staff Reports

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has given Hoosiers a roadmap to reopening the Indiana economy as the COVID-19 pandemic continues with five stages leading to an anticipated full reopening by July 4.

Some relaxation of the state’s stay-at-home order will occur as early as Monday with the exception of three counties, Marion, Lake and Cass, which will remain under lockdown until mid-May.

Holcomb said Indiana is entering Stage 2 on Monday after the Stage 1 lockdown with an understanding that Hoosiers who are 65 years or older or those who have a high risk for COVID-19 because of an underlying medical condition should continue to remain at home.

Some restrictions will be lifted, including ending the essential travel limitations. The state will allow gatherings of up to 25 people, such as birthday parties or Mother’s Day gatherings, Holcomb said.

The state is recommending all Hoosiers wear masks in public settings and practice social distancing, Holcomb said.

Retail stores, including shopping malls, will be allowed to open at 50% capacity. Restaurants will be allowed to open at 50% capacity beginning May 11 with no bar seating. Personal services, such as hair and nail salons and tattoo parlors, also may open May 11 by appointment only and must follow social distancing guidelines.

Holcomb said during this stage, he is encouraging any workers who can work remotely to continue to do so.

For churches, Holcomb said facilities may reopen May 8 for worship services but must follow social distancing guidelines. The governor encouraged any individual 65 or older or those with underlying medical conditions to continue to stay home in this stage.

Public libraries also may reopen subject to their own policies and social distancing, according to the plan.

If data continue to support a continued gradual reopening, on May 24, Stage 3 will begin, Holcomb said. Those 65 and older may venture out cautiously, he said, and social gatherings of up to 100 people will be allowed. Retail may be open at a 75% capacity, and playgrounds, pools, gyms and fitness facilities will be allowed to reopen with social distancing.

Stage 4 will begin June 14 when face coverings and masks will become optional and facilities such as zoos, museums and recreational facilities may open at 50% capacity. Social gatherings of 250 people will be allowed and large venues may reopen with proper social distancing guidelines.

Holcomb said business offices may resume work at full capacity while restaurants may increase to 75% capacity and bar seating at 50%. Recreational sports leagues and sporting competitions may resume at 50% capacity.

By July 4, the state hopes conventions, fairs, the Indiana State Fair and other large events will be allowed, retail will be at full capacity and restrictions will be lifted at amusement parks and other large venues.

“At that point, we will decide how to approach the next school year,” Holcomb said, saying the entire process will be a data-driven methodical process.

“As life starts to slowly return to normal, it will require constant vigilance as we lift restrictions,” Holcomb cautioned about the stages. “We will be monitoring real time how the system is working, and monitoring will be every day.”

Holcomb acknowledged to reporters that the number of COVID-19 cases is likely to increase with the reopening of the state Monday, and there may have to be a pause if the data indicate too much opened too soon.

Ascribing success comparatively to a quote from IndyCar legend A.J. Foyt, Holcomb said when the famous driver was asked for the strategy for winning the Indianapolis 500, he said the race is usually won in the last 50 laps.

“Foyt knew the keys to winning were patience, discipline and perseverance,” Holcomb said. “We have learned that from this moment of trial. There is nothing we can’t do if we work together.”

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A state website, backontrack.in.gov will detail the five stages of reopening the Indiana economy as the pandemic response continues.