More restrictions set for non-essential business

PRINCETON — After closing Indiana school buildings for the rest of the school term and extending a statewide stay-at-home order by two weeks, Gov. Eric Holcomb Monday said the...

PRINCETON — After closing Indiana school buildings for the rest of the school term and extending a statewide stay-at-home order by two weeks, Gov. Eric Holcomb Monday said the state is also tightening terms for non-essential retail business operation during the COVID-10 pandemic.

Indiana State Department of Health reported 4,944 positive cases and 139 deaths in Indiana Monday. Locally, Gibson County has four positive cases with 18 tests reported, Vanderburgh County has 40 cases with 117 tests reported, Posey County has five cases with 11 tests reported, Warrick County has 19 cases with 41 tests reported; Knox County has eight cases with 72 tests reported; Pike has no cases with nien tests reported; Dubois has seven cases with 39 tests reported; Daviess has two cases with 30 tests reported; and Spencer County has one case with 15 tests reported.

In Southeastern Illinois, the Illinois Department of Public Health reports one case in Wabash County, three cases in Crawford County and one case in Gallatin County bordering Indiana. No cases have been reported yet to IDPH from White or Edwards or Lawrence counties.

Holcomb reported Indiana’s federal major disaster declaration provides funds to cover government costs of emergency needs including crisis counseling, food programs, temporary shelters, protective equipment, safety resources and personnel.

Gibson County Fairgrounds Pavilion Inc. received a $2,000 Rapid Response grant from the Gibson County Community Foundation, which allows the fairgrounds to maintain readiness. The fairground has in the past assisted the Red Cross and displaced Gibson County residents during river flooding, storms and a train derailment, fair board president Charlie Woodruff noted.

The governor’s executive order extends the public health emergency to May 5, and extends the stay-at-home order and restrictions on bars and restaurants to April 20.

Beginning at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, the order includes increased restrictions for non-essential retail businesses. All campgrounds (except RV/cabins considered primary residences) are ordered closed and the governor said non-essential retailers must do business either online or phone for curbside pickup, with no customers inside buildings.

He said Judge David Cook of the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission will oversee all executive order enforcement efforts.

“What we do today, what we do tomorrow is going to have a direct impact on how we find ourselves in two weeks,” he said. “We’re at the beginning, the very beginning of our surge. This is the time, right now, to be very mindful of our actions and our inactions. There will be consequences for both.”

The order stipulates that retailers which provide necessities of life, such as food, medicine, office supplies, transportation services, can continue to do business with customers going in a store, shopping, paying and leaving.

Retailers which don’t provide necessities, such as florists, bookstores, beauty supplies, can continue to operate but their facility must be closed to customers. Business can be conducted by online ordering or call-in service for curbside pickup and delivery.

“We understand that converting your business model is hard, but..drastic times call for drastic measures,” the governor said Monday. “If you want to open your business for business, you’re going to have to do it differently over these next two weeks.”

Retail businesses that provide necessities of life may remain open but should limit the number of customers at any given time; reserve hours for elderly and other vulnerable populations, limit hours of operation to restock and clean, and comply with mitigation measures to protect employees and the public.

The order stipulates that professional services should be conducted virtually or by telephone.

All public and private gatherings of any kind that include more than 10 people are prohibited.

Employers are ordered to comply with Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. IOSHA is investigating complaints of violations. (Complaint process at https://www.in.gov/dol/)

A critical industries hotline is available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday to respond to business and industry questions about whether a business is considered essential. Call 877-820-0890 or email covidresponse@iedc.in.gov

Holy WeekWith the stay-at-home order in place through Holy Week as Christians observe Good Friday and Easter, Holcomb said he’s thankful to pastors “for understanding that this Holy Week for many of us is the exact right time to connect with the Word and the Truth, and the truth of the matter is that this coronavirus does not discriminate, does not care what crowd you’re in.”

He said he’s thankful to pastors for sending him their streaming sermons. “We’re all, many of us, dependent upon the church as a body, not as a building,” he said, reiterating, “this disease does not care, this disease will prey on the vulnerable, this disease will prey on large gatherings…”

JobsPandemic unemployment compensation and pandemic unemployment assistance programs make an additional $600 in weekly benefits available to claimants who lost employment due to COVID-19.

Indiana Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne said unemployment compensation will be sent electronically beginning the week of April 20, retroactive to March 29 and payable through any week through July.

The pandemic unemployment assistance is temporary unemployment insurance for those who don’t normally qualify for unemployment, but would be working if not for the pandemic (self employed, gig economy, limited work history). He said the time-frame for assistance payments will take longer than the unemployment compensation program.

Acknowledging problems over the weekend claimants experienced trying to file claimes, Payne said the agency is hiring more people, increasing bandwidth and contracting with third party provider to assist with its call center.

Other assistance• The Family and Social Services Administration reports more than 152,000 Indiana households received additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits when April distributions began Sunday.

• Over the weekend Indiana National Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Indiana State Department of Health scouted locations for potential alternative care sites.

• An American Red Cross blood drive is hosted from 1-7 p.m. April 21 at Dick Clark’s Family Restaurant banquet room in Princeton. Donors should pre-register at redcross.org on the donate blood tab by plugging in their zip code and choosing the April 21 event to select a time. Owner Jeff Clark said the need for blood is great since some blood drives have been canceled. Eighty to 100 donors are needed. Donors can park in the Pine/State Streets parking lot on the east side of the restaurant and enter the marked door. Proper social distancing conventions will be in place.

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