Stage 5 started on September 26 in Indiana. This allows retail stores, malls, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs to return to full capacity. In addition, personal services businesses, gyms, and fitness centers can open at full capacity with no restrictions. Amusement parks and water parks can also open without restrictions. There is no longer an attendance cap on the size of gatherings and meetings. If events include more than 500 people, then a written plan must be submitted to the local health department.
It is important to note that face masks and social distancing are still required. As reported in the Indianapolis Star, Holcomb was encouraged by the state’s 7-day positivity rate dropping to under 4% for those tested for the coronavirus – a number that is 50% less than it was in July. This was a key factor in making his decision to move Indiana to stage 5. Holcomb also said that contact tracing and quarantining of people exposed to positive cases is working well.
Entering stage 5 creates fear that people will be less careful about the virus. Washing hands, wearing masks, and social distancing will be more important than ever while in stage 5. Although, since we are entering the final phase of reopening people may assume that they can be more carefree about these things. Questions also arise about Halloween and trick or treating this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend against trick or treating.
Holcomb said that we cannot go back to how life was before COVID-19. We are not back to being wide open yet. Even by moving on from stage 4.5 to stage 5, it is predicted to see an increase in positive cases. If there are negative trends, then state officials will be ready to react quickly. Health officials will focus on the specific activities that are causing the increase in infections. Dr. Gabriel Bosslet, a pulmonologist at the Indiana University School of Medicine said that stage 5 is not the end, and there will probably be a stage 6.
As members of the Saint Joseph High School community and family, we need to continue being cautious. We need to continue wearing masks during school and at all extracurricular activities. We also need to continue walking single file in the hallway, and being extra careful in the lunchroom. If everyone stays as cautious in stage 5, as they were in previous stages, we should stay healthy. Stay healthy Saint Joe!