Updated May 21 at 4:25 p.m.
Indiana is moving forward early to the next stage of its plan to relax COVID-19 restrictions. Stage 3 of the governor’s “Back On Track” timeline will now begin Friday for all but three counties statewide.
That next stage – originally set to begin May 24 – allows gyms, fitness centers, community pools, campgrounds and tennis and basketball courts to open within social distancing restrictions and sanitation guidelines.
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Gov. Eric Holcomb says the early transition is possible because he says most Hoosiers have continued to follow mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing recommendations.
“If you are 65 and older or if you have underlying health conditions, we’re still telling you to be uber-cautious,” Holcomb says.
Holcomb did extend a ban on utility shut-offs, foreclosures and evictions through July 1.
Restaurants and bars that serve food must continue to limit customers to 50 percent capacity. Bars and nightclubs must remain closed. And youth summer camps must wait until June 1 to open.
The executive order signed by the governor Thursday makes a few changes to the previously announced guidelines for Stage 3. Movie theatres will now remain closed until Stage 4. And playgrounds must remain shut down; the governor’s office says they won’t open until a date “to be determined.”
Holcomb’s latest order also clarifies conditions for sports leagues and activities: Community recreational youth and adult sports leagues may resume practices and conditioning while adhering to social gathering and social distancing guidelines. Contact sports, such as lacrosse and football, are prohibited, but conditioning and non-contact drills may take place.
Stage 3 also allows gatherings of up to 100 people – which State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box acknowledges she’s concerned about.
“However, I do think that there is a way that we can do this safely and that involves all of the same things that we’ve already been doing,” Box says.
Box encourages groups of that size to be outdoors.
Retail stores and malls can further expand customers to 75 percent capacity. More details can be found at BackOnTrack.IN.gov
Lake, Marion and Cass Counties cannot begin Stage 3 until June 1.
This story has been updated to reflect the changes the governor made to the "Back On Track" plan in his latest executive order.