CHICAGO (CBS) — Indiana will further ease its statewide COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, allowing for larger social gatherings, increased capacity at retail stores and the opening of recreational sports facilities.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said he will sign an executive order on Thursday. “I say this with comfort and confidence,” Holcomb said as he announced the transition to Stage 3. Three counties–Lake, Cass and Marion–will delay Stage 3 until June 1 because of higher outbreaks of infection there.
Under Stage 3, social gatherings of up to 100 people are allowed. Retail store capacity can increase to 75 percent, up from 50 percent. Gyms may open with restrictions, like limits on class sizes and a requirement that equipment be cleaned after each use. Community pools and campgrounds can open, recreational sports practices can begin, except for contact sports. Basketball and tennis courts and baseball fields can reopen. Movie theaters may reopen at 50 percent capacity. Restaurants and bars that serve food, which were reopened in Stage 2, will remain at 50 percent capacity.
Schools, sports venues and nightclubs will remain closed during Stage 3, which remains in effect until June 13. Holcomb noted that folks should write that date down in pencil because it is not a hard deadline and that testing and case data will drive any decision to move to Stage 4. “We are quadrupling the number of people who can get together,” he said. “It does give us some concern, just knowing we will be in this stage until June 14 with that number of people and that amount of activity.”
“To answer honestly, this is a to be determined,” he added.
Holcomb also said the ban on utility shutdowns, evictions and mortgage forclosures will be extended to July 1. The waiver of penalties for driver’s license renewals and car registrations will also be extended until then.
Even as restrictions are being eased, practicing social distancing and wearing masks are recommended. People over 65, and those with health conditions, should stay at home when possible.
Indiana is moving to the next reopening phase based on the following criteria:
Monitor the number hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The daily admission number has declined from 118 on April 14 to 53 on May 15, state health director Kris Box said Wednesday.
Retain the capacity to treat a surge of patients. Right now, Indiana has about 40 percent of its ICU beds and 80 percent of its ventilators available to treat the seriously ill.
Have the ability to test all Hoosiers who show COVID-19 symptoms. Currently the state is conducting 5,000 to 6,000 a day, Box said.
Have the ability to contact trace all cases. The state has hired 500 contact tracers to keep track, Box said.
To date, a total of 29,274 Hoosiers have become ill with COVID-19 and 1,746 have died, not including another 148 probable COVID-19 deaths. In Lake County, the second worst outbreak in the state outside of Indianapolis, the numbers are 3,024 cases and 149 deaths.