ll but four Indiana counties will loosen coronavirus restrictions another notch on Friday, May 22.
Governor Holcomb is loosening restrictions two days ahead of schedule to give people the full holiday weekend. The “Stage 3” order allows gyms, pools, campgrounds, and basketball and tennis courts to reopen, though they’ll still have to take precautions to disinfect equipment and enforce social distancing — Holcomb says the executive order will have seven pages of requirements for swimming pools alone.
Holcomb says Hoosiers have “earned the ability” to relax restrictions further by mostly adhering to pleas to wear masks, minimize interactions, disinfect surfaces and wash hands frequently. But he says every new step toward reopening could tempt people to let their guard down. State health commissioner Kristina Box says the percentage of positive cases and the number of hospitalizations continues to drop steadily, but says she’ll be watching data carefully between now and the next scheduled phase on June 14. She says she’s concerned about the potential for a cascade of infections as people interact again in larger numbers.
A cap on mass gatherings will double to 100 people. Stores and malls, which now are allowed to operate at half capacity, can bump that up to three-quarters.
Raceways can reopen, but without spectators. Recreational sports can resume, but not contact sports, including football and lacrosse. And while playgrounds were originally supposed to be part of this phase, they’re still closed while health officials try to figure out how to keep them disinfected. Box says playgrounds pose a tougher challenge, since it’s hard to stop small children from putting their hands in their mouths.
The order won’t take effect until June 1 in Marion, Lake and Cass Counties, the same counties excluded from the last reopening order. Monroe County is holding off till June 1 on its own.
Bars, casinos, zoos and museums, and nightclubs are still closed.