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INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb announced his plan to slowly reopen Indiana, and made it official with new executive orders Friday.

The overarching plan “Back on Track Indiana” has five stages. Holcomb said Indiana is already in the first stage and concentrated primarily on rolling out “Stage Two.”

“There are many miles to go,” Holcomb said. “Thanks to the action of 6.7 million Hoosiers, we are ready to move ahead in a measured way.”

He began his daily briefing with a solemn reminder of all Indiana has lost so far during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Let us never, ever forget, for one second, that the more than 1,000 Hoosiers we have lost to this disease are not numbers. They are our parents, grandparents, loved ones,” Holcomb said. “We are all grieving and the depth of our grief is commensurate to how much we loved them.”

Holcomb also said Indiana wouldn’t forget the heroes who have stepped up during the pandemic.

“We are filled at immense pride at the generosity and sacrifice coming out at every corner of our state. On behalf of all Hoosiers, thank you,” he said, recognizing health professionals, first responders and essential workers in all industries who’ve kept the state going.

Holcomb said the number of admitted COVID-19 patients has decreased for two weeks. He said he wouldn’t ease restrictions unless that standard was met. The state’s guiding principles: 

  • Monitor the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients
  • Retain capacity to treat a surge in patients
  • Have the ability to test all symptomatic Hoosiers
  • Have the ability to contact trace cases

Since the trends are moving in the right direction for Indiana, Holcomb said it’s time to roll out his five-stage “road map.” He hopes to have Indiana reopened by July 4, but said the timeline was subject to change based on COVID-19 trends.

For most Indiana counties, Stage Two begins Monday, May 4. There are exceptions in counties that have seen a large number of COVID-19 cases, such as Marion (May 11), Lake (May 11), Monroe (May 15) and Cass (May 18).

On Thursday, Indianapolis Mayor Hogsett issued his own stay at home order for Marion County specifically, and said on Friday that the county public health leaders will analyze the state’s phased approach to assess how it can be implemented in Indianapolis.

Hoosiers 65 and older or those with underlying health conditions are urged to stay home and limit contact.

Holcomb said it was important to note that these are state guidelines—local governments can tighten the restrictions if necessary.

Under Stage Two guidelines, masks are recommended in public and when around other people. Retail and commercial businesses can operate at 50% capacity; mall common areas need to have just 25% capacity.

Once a county has been in Stage Two for a week, more restrictions can be lifted. That includes appointment-only personal services like hair appointments. Restaurants can open at 50% capacity for dine-in service.

Office workers can return to their jobs. However, people who can work from home are strongly encouraged to do so.

Several businesses will remain closed in Stage Two. They include bars, gyms, entertainment events and venues such as zoos, concert halls, movie theatres, bowling alleys, amusement parks, playgrounds, adult day cares, casinos, community swimming pools and camps.

There is an important distinction in Stage Two plans: churches will reopen statewide on May 8. Religious services are exempt from the 25-person rule. However, churches should follow social distancing guidelines and take precautions: 

  • Face masks
  • No one older than 65 or with underlying health issues in attendance
  • Live streaming option
  • Add more times of services
  • Sign up-sheet to limit congregation size
  • Cleaning between services

Back On Track Indiana: Overview (May 1, 2020)

Here’s a look at the additional stages:

Stage Three

  • May 24 through June13
  • Gyms and fitness centers reopen with restrictions
  • Playgrounds and sports facilities like playgrounds, basketball courts
  • Movie theaters reopen at half-capacity 
  • Retail stores and malls at 75% capacity
  • Social gatherings up to 100 people
  • Undecided on whether every county will move to stage 3 at the same time 

Stage Four 

  • Set to begin June 14 
  • Masks optional
  • Social gatherings at 250 people 
  • Retail and malls full capacity
  • Dining 75% capacity 
  • State government buildings reopen
  • Office buildings at full capacity
  • Bar seating and restaurants, nightclubs 50%
  • Entertainment venues, 50% capacity 
  • Recreational sports allowed
  • Large venues with social gathering guidelines
  • Amusement parks 50% with reservations required 

Stage Five 

  • Expected to start July 4th weekend
  • Social distancing encouraged
  • Remote work optional
  • All limitations lifted for businesses
  • Conventions, sporting events, fairs allowed
  • No restrictions on amusement and water parks
  • School year decision forthcoming

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, who announced a stay-at-home order for Marion County through May 15, issued this statement:

“I want to thank Governor Holcomb, Dr. Box, and our partners at the State of Indiana for their work to provide today’s set of policy recommendations. I am particularly appreciative that this statewide strategy will continue to allow counties to address the unique challenges faced by densely populated areas such as Indianapolis.

In the coming days, Marion County public health leaders will analyze this phased approach to assess how it can be implemented in Indianapolis. It is my intention to provide additional guidance to residents and businesses next week as to how we can begin to work our way through these phases.”

Mayor Joe Hogsett