Gov. Eric Holcomb has told all non-essential businesses to close and told Hoosiers to stay at home—except to buy food or prescriptions, obtain health care, take care of others or go to an essential job—through April 7 in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The state-at-home order takes effect at 12:59 p.m. Tuesday.

“The next two weeks are critical if we are to slow the spread of COVID-19, and we must slow the spread. You must be part of the solution, not the problem,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb also said that all state government offices will be closed to in-person public activity until at least April 7. That includes the Government Center complex in Indianapolis and other offices throughout the state, including Bureau of Motor Vehicle branches.

State employees will work remotely whenever possible and continue to provide core functions online and by phone. All public safety functions will continue.

His decision—announced in a Statehouse address streamed online—follows in the footsteps of a handful of other governors across the country, including three of Indiana’s neighboring states: Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. It drew praise from legislative leader and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, despite the signficant impact on the local conomy.

“The governor didn’t make today’s decision lightly—it was out of necessity to protect the citizens of Indiana as we fight our way through this pandemic,” said Indiana Chamber CEO Kevin Brinegar in a statement issued immediately following the announcement.

“The announcement obviously will impact more employers and their workers,” he said. “There is no way around that and the economic disruptions that will accelerate. But we want employers to know that we are here for them."

Indiana has 259 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 and has had seven deaths. Marion County has been hit the hardest with 110 confirmed cases.

Testing has ramped up in recent days, but state officials believe the number of cases is far higher than what’s reported because individuals with mild symptoms likely aren’t being tested.

Health care professionals in Indiana and across the country have expressed frustration in getting access to testing kits and concerns over a lack of personal protection equipment to keep hospital staff safe.

Holcomb’s decision is the latest in a string of protective measures he has implemented recently: All public and private schools are closed until May 1, all restaurants, bars and nightclubs have been closed except for carry-out and delivery orders since March 16, and all businesses have been encouraged to enforce work-from-home policies.

In conjunction with the state government closures, Holcomb ordered an automatic extension of all state-issued licenses and will advise law enforcement to refrain from issuing citations for a driver’s license or registration that expires during this emergency.

In addition, the state, in conjunction with the city and all hospital systems in Marion County, has activated an emergency operations center to maximize hospital capacity and provide joint coordination. The center is charged with tracking the inventory of all hospital beds, supplies and personnel as the number of COVID-19 patients grows.

“I am proud of our hospital systems that are participating in the initial phase of this process, Eskenazi Health, IU Health, Franciscan Health, Community Health Network, and Ascension,” Holcomb said in prepared remarks. “Marion County is where we’ve seen the most community spread to date, but we will expand this model to other parts of the state.”

On Friday, Holcomb announced that the state’s May 5 primary election would be postponed to June 2.

But until Monday, Holcomb had resisted calls to order Hoosiers to shelter-in-place.

Governors in California, New York, Delaware, Louisiana, Massachusetts and New Jersey have issued similar orders.
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