Can I Go For A Walk? Here's What A 'Stay-At-Home' Order Really Does

Mar 23, 2020

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced a statewide “Stay-At-Home” order for Indiana Monday. While there are new restrictions across the state, there are a number of things you can do and businesses that can stay open. 

Why are we under a "Stay-At-Home" order?

Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio are among states that have already issued "Stay-At-Home" orders, or similar shelter-in-place orders. It’s designed to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

We won’t know how effective it is for one to three weeks, because of the cycle of the novel coronavirus. So, the confirmed cases and deaths will continue to climb in that time period.

But what does the "Stay-At-Home" order mean?

It means that the governor has mandated you stay indoors unless it’s essential that you leave – with a number of exemptions. And non-essential government and business operations will shut down.

What are those exemptions?

Things that are essential to the health and safety of you or members of your family or household. 

  • Getting medical supplies or medication
  • Visiting a health care professional 
  • Going to the grocery store
  • Delivering food, groceries or cleaning products to members of your family
  • Picking up food, medicine or supplies
  • Caring for a family member or pet in another household

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For businesses that are still open:

  • Obtaining supplies to work from home
  • Working at essential businesses, government facilities and nonprofit organizations

Outdoor exercise:

  • Outdoor exercise such as hiking, running or taking a walk is acceptable, and encouraged. While exercising outside, you still should practice social distancing by remaining at least 6 feet away from other people.
  • Dog-walking is also totally fine.
  • However, gyms, fitness centers and many playgrounds will be closed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. 

What businesses are staying open?

Essential businesses and services cover a substantial number of industries. The interpretation is left up to individual businesses, who can call 877-820-0890 or email at covidresponse@iedc.in.gov for additional guidance.

The governor’s office is taking cues from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in what qualifies, which includes but is not limited to grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, doctor’s offices, health care facilities, funeral services, garbage pickup, public transit, and public service hotlines such as SNAP and HIP 2.0.

Beyond those services, additional industries are allowed to keep functioning. Laundromats, animal shelters and adoption facilities, dry cleaners, laundry service providers, construction, hardware stories, auto repair, utilities and hotels also fall under this category. 

What businesses are shutting down?

Hair salon, spa, nail salon, tattoo parlor and barber shops are ordered to close. Playgrounds, zoos, museums, bowling alleys, social clubs, and movie theaters are all closing too.

The Indiana State Department of Health and the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission will enforce the restaurant and bars that have not shifted to take-out or delivery service.

My workplace has been ordered to close and I’ve been laid off or furloughed. Can I file for unemployment?

The Department of Workforce Development is telling all workers finding themselves without a job to apply for unemployment insurance online

Holcomb says the state is hoping to broaden its unemployment laws, including allowing those who file late to still get benefits. 

“We are all trying to make sure that all of the resources are going to get to that individual who – you know, the employee who may have been laid off or whose world’s changed and the employer who had to lay that individual off,” Holcomb says.

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Typically Hoosiers have to be able and willing to work, but the new guidelines relax those rules for those out of work due to COVID-19. It also waives unemployment insurance penalties for employers who have to lay off workers.

For those still working, new federal laws mandate expanded paid sick and family leave, but exclude companies with 500 or more employees. The rules also allow small businesses to waive expanded family leave benefits.

What if I have concerns about getting called into work? I don’t think my workplace is “essential business” but my employer is still requiring us to come in?

The governor says you should first bring up that concern with your employer. If you still have concerns, Holcomb says you can file a complaint with the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA).

To file a formal complaint, you must provide your first and last name. But informal complaints may be filed anonymously. 

IOSHA has a form on their website for complaints, which you can email to oshacomplaint@dol.in.gov or call (317) 232-2693 with any questions.

When does the order go into effect?

The "Stay-At-Home" order takes effect Tuesday, March 24 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The order ends on Monday, April 6, at 11:59 p.m. ET, but could be extended if the outbreak warrants it.

Are roads and public transportation getting closed?

No. The roads will remain open – though you should only travel if it is for your health or essential work. 

Public transportation, ride-sharing and taxis should only be used for essential travel.

How is this being enforced? Is the Indiana National Guard getting deployed?

Staying home is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19 in your community. The governor says, if the order is not followed, the Indiana State Police will work with local law enforcement to enforce this order.

Holcomb says his “Stay-At-Home” order is not meant to be a “hammer” but to emphasize the need to socially distance and self-isolate, thus curbing the spread of COVID-19.

“[The police] are not going to be pulling people over going to and from work," Holcomb says. "If we get into a situation where someone is flaunting, we’ll have to address that on a case-by-case basis.”

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However, the Indiana National Guard is not part of enforcing this order. The Guard is aiding in planning, preparation and logistics with other state agencies. For example, the Indiana National Guard assists in distributing hospital supplies the state receives.

How can I receive medical care?

The governor’s office recommends, if you develop symptoms such as fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, stay home and call your health care provider.

Call in advance so your provider can take proper precautions to limit further transmission. Older patients and individuals who have severe underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their health care provider early, even if their illness is mild.

If you have severe symptoms, such as persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or extreme fatigue, or bluish lips or face, contact your healthcare provider or emergency room and seek care immediately, but call in advance if possible. 

Your doctor will determine if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and whether you should be tested.

What about non-emergency medical care like eye exams or dental appointments?

Non-essential medical care such as eye exams and teeth-cleaning should be postponed. When possible, health care visits should be done remotely. Contact your health care provider to see what telehealth services they provide.

This story has been updated, to respond to frequent questions asked by our audience.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

This is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. However, we recommend checking the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Indiana State Department of Health for the most recent numbers of COVID-19 cases.