INDIANAPOLIS (AP/WLFI) — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Friday a relaxing of business restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus spread for much of the state, allowing more manufacturers, retailers and shopping malls to open their doors starting Monday under health and social distancing guidelines.
The five-step road map, call Back-on-Track Indiana, was shown during the governor's weekly COVID-19 press conference. The plan spans several weeks with the goal to have the state reopened by July 4, 2020. All five stages can be found on the Back-on-Track Indiana website by clicking HERE.
The first stage according to Gov. Holcomb, is the current status of the "Hunker Down Hoosiers" stay at home order.
The second stage is set to begin Monday, May 4 with all but three Indiana counties. Marion and Lake County will enter stage two on May 11, and Cass on May 18 due to the high numbers of virus cases.
The governor’s new directive lifts travel restrictions under the statewide stay-at-home order that took effect March 25, but doesn’t allow restaurants to resume in-person dining or hair salon reopenings for another week. Fitness centers, movie theaters, bars and casinos are among businesses that will remain closed until at least late May.
Holcomb said he decided to ease restrictions because he believes Indiana’s COVID-19 spread has stabilized enough that hospitals are able to care for those who are seriously ill.
The new directive removes churches and other religious sites from limits on gathering sizes effective May 8. It encourages people to wear masks when in public while raising the allowance on gatherings from the current 10 people to 25 people.
Local governments may still impose tougher restrictions to deal with outbreaks in their communities. Holcomb’s new order keeps previous restrictions in place for Marion and Lake counties, which are the state’s largest and lead Indiana in COVID-19 deaths, and Cass County, which had a large outbreak that prompted the closing of a Tyson meatpacking plant last week.
The move comes as Indiana officials have reported nearly 1,200 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 deaths since mid-March and a record-high surge in jobless claims with widespread business closures.