INDIANAPOLIS — All but three of Indiana’s 92 counties will move into Gov. Eric Holcomb’s third phase for reopening Friday, two days ahead of his previously announced timeline.
“We’ve earned the ability to move forward,” Holcomb said Wednesday of statewide restrictions that have helped slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The executive order, with seven pages of guidance and recommendations detailing the state’s plan, will be released Thursday, the governor said.
Marion, Cass and Lake counties, where outbreaks of COVID-19 have occurred, will continue on a slower track than the rest of the state and are scheduled to move to Stage 3 on June 1.
Under Stage 3, the limit on in-person gatherings moves from 25 to 100 people and restaurants will be allowed to open up to 50% capacity. Retail stores can operate at 75% capacity.
Physical activities can expand under the next stage with the opening of gyms, fitness centers and recreational sports. Contact sports, such as football and lacrosse, are still prohibited. Baseball fields, tennis courts and basketball courts may reopen.
Youth summer day camps may begin June 1 with an emphasis on outdoor activity without group lunch settings.
“Make sure we do the same type of investigation as to whether an individual child is sick or has any signs or symptoms of COVID-19,” Kris Box, the state health commissioner, said. “But we know that the kids don’t always do (social distancing) very well and even have discussed the opportunity to wear masks in some of these situations.”
The new executive order will extend the moratorium on utility shutoffs, mortgage foreclosures and evictions until July 1, along with waiving late penalties for certain transactions with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Still, Holcomb asked at-risk Hoosiers to be “super cautious,” and Box advised that large gatherings be outside to limit virus exposure.
“The data makes us very confident to go into Stage 3 right now,” Box said. “I am a little more concerned about that transition from (Stage) 3 to (Stage) 4, but we’ll be watching the data on a daily basis just like we have been.”
June 14, the date scheduled to begin Stage 4, should be written “in pencil” because of the uncertainty, Holcomb said.
“We have put June 14 out there, but we don’t know and we won’t until we go through Stage 3,” the governor explained.
While racetracks may open without fans, casinos will remain closed until June 14, possibly longer, because of the risk of contamination.
Holcomb urged Hoosiers to continue proven safety measures, such as wearing masks and gloves, and remain vigilant.
“A mask is going to go a long way; that physical distancing is going to go a long way,” he said. “Those add up and make a difference, and that’s what’s allowed us (to be) successful.”