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

Apr 20, 2020

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced an extension of his “Stay-At-Home” order for Indiana Monday through May 1. The most recent update loosens regulations on elective surgeries.

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.

When does the expanded order go into effect?

The "Stay-At-Home" order takes effect Monday, April 20, at 11:59 p.m. ET. It’s an expansion of the order issued March 24. 

It is set to expire on May 1.

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:

  • On April 6, Holcomb’s extension of the “Stay-At-Home” order shut down campgrounds, welcome centers, inns, cabins and other buildings at state parks. But the parks remain open. 
  • 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 changes are there with the new extension?

Previous executive orders postponed elective procedures and non-essential medical care like eye exams and teeth cleaning. 

This extension allows those to reopen on Monday, April 27 – with the caveat that personal protective equipment supplies and the need for those in the state have to be maintained. 

The state will re-evaluate supplies every seven days and make a decision from there.

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, daycare facilities, 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 precautions are required for businesses to stay open?

Businesses that remain open to the public are required to comply with CDC guidelines. 

  • Limit the number of customers in their facility at any given time to ensure customers remain at least six feet apart as required by the CDC’s required social distancing guidelines.
  • Limit hours of operation and should consider implementing separate operating hours for seniors and other vulnerable customers.
  • Comply with social distancing and sanitation of applicable areas and other mitigation measures to protect employees and the public.

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.

READ MORE: Child Care, Gig Economy Worker Relief Still Unresolved

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 informal complaints, which you can email to oshacomplaint@dol.in.gov or call (317) 232-2693 with any questions.

How will this be enforced?

The governor’s expanded “Stay-At-Home” order includes the creation of an Enforcement Response Team. Along with the Indiana State Department of Health, it will first give a verbal warning and then ISDH may issue a cease and desist letter.

If the business continues to operate, the Indiana State Department of Health can order the business to close – which will be reported to the Secretary of State and to any other relevant boards or commissions. 

Additionally, if an order to close a business is issued, a local prosecuting attorney may file charges for violating the executive order issued under Indiana’s Emergency Disaster Law. 

How is this being enforced for individuals? 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.”

READ MORE: Unclear How Indiana Will Enforce Stay-At-Home Order, Goes Into Effect At Midnight

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.

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 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 questions we've received from our audience and the governor's expansion of the state's "Stay-At-Home" order.

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.