Indiana’s Roadmap to get Back on Track after COVID-19 Lockdown

The month of May in Indianapolis is not the same without the Indianapolis 500, which usually runs Memorial Day weekend. Indiana currently plans to hold the race on August 23, 2020. While there will be no cars at the brickyard this May, there is movement toward that goal. According to Governor Holcomb’s announcement on May 1, 2020, Indiana is officially “Back on Track.” Governor Holcomb’s “Back on Track” plan is a five-stage plan or “measured roadmap” to reopen Indiana by July 4, 2020.

Stage 1 – The Pits

Indiana has been in Stage 1—basically a holding pattern—since March 23. Only essential operations such as manufacturing and infrastructure have remained open, although all essential employees who were able to work virtually were encouraged to do so. Travel has been limited to essential travel only. Restaurants and retail operations were permitted to remain open for pick up or delivery only. Bars, clubs, entertainment venues, and gyms were all closed or solely operating online. Social gatherings were limited to 10 or fewer people and any gathering was required to follow the CDC’s social distancing guidelines. Additionally, facial coverings, such as masks, were recommended and encouraged. In a prelude to the next stage, restrictions on elective medical procedures were lifted on April 27.

Stage 2 – The Start of The Race

Beginning Monday, May 4, nearly all of Indiana moved to Stage 2, the official starting pistol for the reopening process. Importantly, Stage 2 will not begin until at least Monday, May 11 in Lake and Marion Counties and May 18 in Cass County. Employers also should bear in mind that all individuals age 65 and over and individuals who have high-risk health conditions are to continue to shelter at home during Stage 2. Facial coverings remain recommended for all.

Additional Highlights of Stage 2:

  • Travel restrictions are lifted.
  • All manufacturing, industrial and infrastructure operations may open, though employees who can work from home should continue to work from home.
  • Retail and commercial businesses may open to 50% capacity.
  • Outdoor shopping malls can open to 50% capacity.
  • Indoor shopping malls can open to 25% capacity.
  • Restaurants and bars may open to 50% capacity to serve food.
  • Salons, spas, and tattoo parlors may open by appointment only.
  • Indoor worship services may be held in all Indiana counties beginning May 8, provided social distancing guidelines are followed.

Stage 3 – The Middle of The Race

On May 24, the day the Indy 500 was scheduled to run, all counties in Indiana hope to race into Stage 3. Even when Indiana enters Stage 3, employees who can work from home are encouraged to continue working from home. Likewise, individuals over the age of 65 and those with compromised immune systems are encouraged to “venture out cautiously.” Face coverings will continue to be recommended.

Additional Highlights of Stage 3:

  • Retail stores and malls may increase capacity to 75%.
  • Movie theaters may open to 50% capacity.
  • Mall food courts and other common areas may increase capacity to 50%.
  • Gyms and fitness centers may open provided social distancing protocols are followed.
  • Playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, pools, and campgrounds may open provided social distancing protocols are followed.

Stage 4 – The Final Laps

Provided the medical data remains positive, Indiana will move into Stage 4 beginning June 14, 2020. Upon entry into Stage 4, all state government buildings will be open to the public, professional office buildings may open to full capacity, and retail stores and malls may open to full capacity with proper social distancing measures in place.

Additional Highlights of Stage 4:

  • Restaurants may increase capacity to 75%.
  • Bar seating may open to 50% capacity.
  • Museums, zoos, bowling alleys, and other entertainment venues may open to 50% capacity.
  • Water parks, amusement parks, and Recreational Sports Leagues may resume.

Stage 5 – The Finish Line

In what cannot be a coincidence, Stage 5 is scheduled to begin Independence Day, July 4, 2020. In Stage 5, all manufacturers, restaurants, retail operations, bars, nightclubs, personal services, and gyms may operate at full capacity. Indiana continues to recommend all establishments and groups follow social distancing guidelines and Hoosiers 65 or older and those with known medical conditions adhere to social distancing and remain cautious. Finally, even in Stage 5, the state recommends employers in all arenas screen employees daily for possible coronavirus.

Additional Highlights of Stage 5:

  • There are no limitations on the size of events and conventions, sport events, fairs, and festivals that may operate.
  • Personal services such as salons may operate at full capacity.
  • The CDC is expected to provide guidance regarding day and overnight camps.
  • Depending on the type of industry, face coverings are optional or recommended.

On May 1, 2020, when he announced the “roadmap” for Indiana’s “Back on Track” plan, Governor Holcomb cautioned that the plan was subject to change as the statistics and data develop. For now, businesses in Indiana should begin to plan to reopen and operate in accordance with the above timeline.

As businesses reopen to full capacity, employers must consider how and when to recall laid-off or furloughed employees, how to accommodate employees in the short and long term, what personal protective equipment they will provide employees, how they will implement social distancing, how they will determine the impact of the roadmap on employees over 65, and countless other novel issues associated with COVID-19.

Littler’s Indianapolis attorneys will address these and other coronavirus-related employment concerns during their on-going complimentary webinar series beginning May 20, 2020. Information on this series will be posted here

On the above and other issues, employers should watch for further guidance and remain in touch with their counsel, as needed. These can often be legal questions requiring advisory opinions outside the purview of non-legal consultants.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.