SOUTHERN INDIANA — On Monday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a statewide order for Hoosiers to stay at home for the next two weeks except for essential activities, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Starting at midnight Wednesday through April 7, residents are ordered to stay within their homes through April 7. People are still allowed to leave their homes for groceries, for medical reasons or to take care of another person who is ill or needs supplies such as groceries, to get their cars fixed and to go to work, if their workplace is listed as an essential business, and to exercise.
All non-essential public-facing businesses are also ordered to close — this includes things such as nail and hair salons, clothing stores which don’t sell groceries and others which don’t provide an essential service.
Daycares, laundromats, car service shops, grocery stores, liquor stores are listed among those deemed essential for the safety and function of society during this public emergency; restaurants can remain open for curbside and delivery service.
Although the mandate is legally enforceable, Indiana State Police Sgt. Carey Huls said officers are trying to focus more on education.
“Can we enforce it, is it a misdemeanor if you violate it? Yes it is, if you violate it,” Huls said. “Somebody could be cited in the court on a misdemeanor, they could be arrested for it if an officer were to observe it in person.”
But it isn’t as if officers are setting up roadblocks, and they still need probable cause to pull someone over for a traffic stop.
“The guidance from our department is it would have to be an ‘extraordinary situation’ if somebody were to be arrested for something like this,” he said, adding that if officers observe a blatant disregard for the mandate, they will address it. “What we’re doing right now is just business as usual and educating people.”
Still he urged people to observe the mandate and heed the words of local and state health officials. As of Wednesday, there were seven confirmed cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in Clark County, six in Floyd. Statewide, the Indiana State Department of Health reported that as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, there had been 477 cases confirmed in more than half of the state’s 92 counties, with 14 deaths.
Huls said what’s more likely to happen during the mandate is that residents might observe something like a business not deemed essential which remains open during the temporary mandate, and report it to police.
“Then we may basically educate them and say ‘hey here’s the number to call to make sure you are listed as one of the necessary businesses that can stay open,’” he said. “But we don’t foresee that.”
And people can still enjoy a bit of the outdoors, such as going on a park trail or riding a bike, provided they practice social distancing with others. But local parks facilities such as restrooms and shelters are closed, and Huls said kids shouldn’t be allowed to play on playgrounds.
“We advise staying away from the playground because it could be an easy place [to spread germs],” he said.