More businesses in portions of Indiana continued to progress through the state's reopening plan that Gov. Eric Holcomb says is aimed at getting Hoosiers "back on track by July 4."
Holcomb unveiled the region-by-region reopening plan on May 1, with most areas entering stage 2 of the plan on May 4. However, Marion and Lake Counties were unable to move to stage two until May 11, Holcomb said. Cass County can begin on May 18.
Indianapolis officials extended the city’s stay-at-home order 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.
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, the city's mayor 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, the governor said.
Here's what is and is not 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 that had not been considered essential will also be able to open
- Retail and commercial businesses will open at 50 percent 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 May 11 at 50% capacity, but bar seating will remain closed
- Those who work in offices are encourages 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.
On May 24, the state will begin transitioning to stage three.
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 four, 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.