Indiana governor still looking at May 1 for easing stay-at-home restrictions

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Friday that he is still focused on reopening some parts of Indiana’s economy in early May if the state’s data supports doing so, despite recent announcements from neighboring states that their stay-at-home orders have been extended.

Michigan and Illinois have extended their stay-home orders, each set to expire April 30, to May 15 and June 1, respectively. Indiana’s current stay-at-home order expires May 1, and although it is expected to be extended, some restrictions are expected to be lifted.

Among the major changes to Illinois’ extended order is a new requirement that residents cover their faces in public spaces where social distancing is difficult. The mandate begins May 1 and applies to anyone over the age of 2 who is “able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask.”

Illinois also plans to open state parks on a phased-in basis and lift restrictions on some non-essential businesses.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today extended her stay at home order through May 15 while relaxing some restrictions. Residents will be required to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces, but people will now be allowed to boat or play golf. Some businesses that had been closed, such as bike repair shops and nurseries, are allowed to reopen.

Holcomb said he is staying in touch with other governors about their decisions but isn’t letting their orders dictate Indiana’s. Instead he’s looking at Indiana-specific data.

On Thursday, the state announced it was partnering with the Fairbanks School to perform an in-depth study of COVID-19’s spread across the state that is expected to help guide Holcomb and other leaders in decisions to reopen the state.

“You mentioned he extended his to June 1. We’re not contemplating that,” he said in response to a question from a reporter regarding Illinois’ order. “Here in the state of Indiana, we’re focused on May 1, and all the changes we need to make and put in place through May 1, and we’ll continue to look at that road ahead in those kind of two-week, 10-day, three-week increments.”

He noted that some of the restrictions that have been lifted in neighboring states, such as golf or curbside retail pick-up, are already permitted in Indiana. Each state is looking at its own numbers to make decisions. Holcomb signed an executive order Friday that lifts a ban on elective medical procedures starting Sunday night.

“Indiana won’t be frozen in place because of some other state’s or region’s numbers. We’re not forced to act in lockstep with anyone else,” he said. “This is a delicate balance of lifting and suppression in terms of what the data is telling you what to do so that we don’t experience a resurgence.”

As of Thursday, Indiana had 13,680 official cases of COVID-19 resulting in at least 741 deaths.

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