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Governor Holcomb Outlines How – And Why – The State Will Reopen


Gov. Eric Holcomb outlined his plan to reopen in-person business across the state. It will roll out in a five-stage process, with most of the state beginning Stage 2 on Monday. 

The “Stay-At-Home” order was Stage 1. 

In Stage 2, manufacturers, shopping malls, and retail and commercial businesses may operate at 50 percent of building capacity. Social gatherings are opened up to 25 people, and the state health department recommends Hoosiers wear face masks in public.

Statewide, places of worship will be allowed to reopen without social gathering restrictions on May 8. The guidance from the governor's office encourages social distancing. Holcomb says he'd like to see places of worship increase the number or offer online services to protect higher risk Hoosiers.

One week after that, personal services like hair salons and tattoo parlors may open by appointment only, with operational limitations. And restaurants may open for dine-in service at 50 percent capacity.

Stage 3 in late May expands social gatherings to as many as 100 people, and most businesses open to 75 percent capacity. Gyms and fitness centers also may open in this stage, also long as class sizes and equipment allow for social distancing. Playgrounds, basketball courts and similar facilities may open at this stage as well.

Stage 4 – projected for mid-June – opens tourism, bars and nightclubs at 50 percent capacity. Social gatherings are extended to up to 250 people. And amusement parks and water parks may open at 50 percent capacity.

And Stage 5, projected for the July Fourth holiday, opens conventions, festivals and fairs. Conventions, sports events and other large gatherings may resume. And stores, malls, bars and restaurants may open to full capacity.

Holcomb says the timeline isn’t set in stone.

“We see a lot of variables out there that could make us change course,” Holcomb says.

READ MORE: Can I Go For A Walk? Here's What The Updated 'Stay-At-Home' Order Really Does

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Holcomb's "Back-On-Track" plan doesn't include enforcement measures for limiting capacity or the operational limitations for in-person services.

“There is no state in America that has enough law enforcement – both state and local – to chase down every rumor,” Holcomb says.

Holcomb says he’s relying on businesses to regulate themselves to follow these guidelines.

Holcomb says as he’s reopening the state, he knows there will be an increase in COVID-19 cases, but Hoosiers couldn’t wait for a vaccine to reopen. 

The state’s timeline would lift all restrictions by July 4. But that could be extended.

The four main categories the state is looking at when deciding if and how to pull back reopening focus less on the numbers of cases and deaths, and more on hospital capacity and testing for the virus.

The cases and deaths will increase as the state reopens. But Holcomb says the new partnerships to increase testing and contact tracing mean it can do so responsibly. 

“And we’re taking the responsible steps in allowing ... folks to return to some normal aspects of their life,” Holcomb says.

Dr. Lindsay Weaver, the state’s chief medical officer, says the “Stay-At-Home” order bought state hospitals time to better prepare for when Hoosiers went back to their lives.

“And honestly, we just know more about the disease in this time so that we know how to best care for people when they get sick,” Weaver says.

Most Indiana counties will start Stage 2 on May 4 – though Lake and Marion counties will be delayed by one week, and Cass County delayed by two because of an outbreak.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

This is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. However, we recommend checking the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Indiana State Department of Health for the most recent numbers of COVID-19 cases.

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