County will duplicate state’s pause in reopening

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

This weekend, Indiana will move into Stage 4.5 of reopening.

The state was going to move to Stage 5, which would have been the final stage of reopening. But Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday a new phase added to the state’s “Back on Track Indiana" plan.

“While most of our health indicators remain positive, our data indicates a need to be extra cautious, which is why we will pause much of our Back on Track roadmap,” he said in a press release. “I urge Hoosiers to maintain vigilance in social distancing and wearing masks so we can continue to reopen our state for business.”

Stage 4.5 starts Saturday and will last until at least until July 17.

The local plan will follow the state’s, said Dubois County Commissioners President Chad Blessinger.

“We don’t want our hospital filling up. We don’t want people being sick. We don’t want anyone dying,” he said. “So we’ll [follow] the science and the data as we receive it.”

Blessinger, Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide, Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner and Ferdinand Town Manager Chris James laid out the county’s reopening plan in a document called “Together We Thrive.” It also has five stages of reopening. While several of the items in Stage 4 are the same as Stage 5, some were due to change in the later stage.

But with the governor’s announcement, local officials plan to follow the state’s changes.

“What we’ve done locally is following the lead of the state,” Blessinger said. “We won’t be any less restrictive locally. We will stay along that same path as them.”

He understands why the state is taking a pause in moving forward with Stage 5.

“The data has been mostly positive in Indiana, and we want to keep it that way,” Blessinger said. “But in several other states, neighboring states included, they’ve seen some surges. And we don’t want to follow that projection. So we’re going to keep doing the common sense, simple things we can do to slow or stop the spread here.”

In Stage 4.5, many restrictions from Stage 4 continue:

• Social gatherings following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social-distancing guidelines will be limited to up to 250 people. This limit applies to wedding receptions, parties and other events where people are in close physical contact for extended periods of time, particularly indoors.

• Dining room food service may continue operations at up to 75% capacity as long as social distancing is observed. Bar seating in restaurants may continue operations at 50% capacity. Bars and nightclubs may continue operations at 50% capacity as long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines.

• Cultural, entertainment and tourism sites may continue operations at 50% capacity.

• Movie theaters, bowling alleys and similar facilities may continue operations open at 50% capacity.

• Amusement parks, water parks and similar facilities may continue operations at 50% capacity. Reservations are encouraged to limit the number of customers at any one time.

• Raceways may continue operations at 50% grandstand capacity.

Starting Saturday, fairs, festivals and other similar outdoor events may open. Pari-mutuel horse racing and county and state fair racing may begin with 50% spectator capacity. Youth overnight camps may open. K-12 school operations may begin the 2020-21 academic year on July 1. Extra-curricular, co-curricular activities may resume July 6.

The Dubois County Commissioners will discuss the county’s emergency declaration at their meeting on Monday.

“I’m sure the emergency declaration will stay in place,” Blessinger said. “And we will likely continue to make it mandatory to have on face masks; for the [county] employees, it’s when they can’t socially distance. And for everyone else that comes in, it’s required that they wear those masks.

“The governor is still pushing for that, and that is what we will do in our public facilities.”




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