Little looks to reopen Idaho

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | April 24, 2020 1:00 AM

Gov. unveils plan in two-week stages

Gov. Brad Little said Thursday he intends to open Idaho back up in stages, starting May 1 with churches, barring a public health setback in the war against the coronavirus.

“We have reached a prolonged downward decline in new and severe cases,” Little said in a Thursday press conference, “[because of those] working to flatten the curve.”

Little said the plan is to open the state back up in two-week stages until most of Idaho is open by the end of June. The first stage opens churches, but only if they adhere to strict physical distancing, sanitation protocols and other guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control.

This initial re-opening stage still discourages social gatherings, recommends vulnerable Idahoans should continue to self-quarantine, and prohibits dining rooms to open back up. Out-of-state visitors are still required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon re-entry. But daycares, organized youth activities and camps can re-open.

Stage 2, which begins May 16, will gradually ease restrictions further. For example, gatherings of fewer than 10 will be permitted in the second half of May.

All of this, Little emphasized, depends on whether or not progress continues in the effort to flatten the curve against COVID-19, as well as whether or not businesses, churches and organizations can demonstrate they are effectively encouraging social distancing and other sanitary measures.

Come next Friday — again, if health conditions allow — daycares and youth activities can begin. Most retail stores can open, with certain exceptions such as gyms, bars, salons and movie theaters.

Visits to senior facilities and restrictions against bars and nightclubs will likely not lift until mid-June. Even then, the governor proclaimed, don’t expect to party like it’s 2019.

“We are not going to return to normal until we have a vaccine,” he said.

STAGE 1

May 1 - May 15

All vulnerable Idahoans should continue to self-quarantine. Public and private gatherings should be avoided. Nonessential travel should be minimized. Employers should continue to encourage telework whenever possible.

Visits to senior living facilities are prohibited. Bars and nightclubs remain closed. Restaurants and dining rooms remain closed. Places of worship can open if they adhere to strict physical distancing, sanitation protocol and any CDC guidance.

Indoor gyms and recreation facilities remain closed. Hair salons remain closed. Large venues, such as movie theaters, are closed. Daycares and organized youth activities and camps can reopen.

STAGE 2

May 16 - May 29

All vulnerable Idahoans should continue to self-quarantine and members of households with vulnerable residents should take precautions. Gatherings of fewer than 10 people, where appropriate physical distancing and precautionary measures are observed, can occur. Nonessential travel should be minimized.

Employers should continue to encourage telework.

Restaurants and dining rooms, indoor gyms and hair salons can reopen once their plans to reopen have been submitted for approval by local public health districts. Bars and nightclubs remain closed, as do large venues. Visits to senior living facilities are prohibited.

STAGE 3

May 30 - June 12

Vulnerable Idahoans can resume public interactions but should practice social distancing. Gatherings of 10-50 people, where appropriate physical distancing and precautionary measures are observed, can occur. Nonessential travel can resume to locations that allow it and do not have ongoing transmission.

Employers should continue to encourage telework.

Visits to senior living facilities remain prohibited. Bars and nightclubs remain closed, as well as large venues like movie theaters and sporting venues.

STAGE 4

June 13 - June 26

Vulnerable Idahoans can resume public interactions but should practice social distancing. Gatherings of more than 50 people, where appropriate physical distancing and precautionary measures are observed, can occur. Nonessential travel continues.

Employers can resume unrestricted staffing of worksites, but continue to practice physical distancing, personal protections and sanitations for protection of workers. Special accommodations should be made for employees who are considered vulnerable.

Visits to senior living facilities can resume. Bars and nightclubs may operate with diminished standing-room occupancy. Large venues can operate under limited physical distancing protocols.

For more details on Gov. Little’s plan to reopen Idaho: www.reboundidaho.gov