Gov. Brad Little held his first virtual press conference on April 15 where he extended the state’s stay-home order until April 30 with some exceptions.
The biggest exception: non-essential businesses that can provide delivery and curbside service safely can now do so through appropriate hygiene and safe-distancing. The Governor specifically excluded businesses like bars, gyms and salons “where social distance cannot be achieved.”
In addition, people coming into Idaho from out of state must self-quarantine for 14 days, excluding essential workers or people who live in one state but crossed state lines to perform essential work in another state.
Little praised Idahoans for their efforts in complying with the current stay-home order, saying that the state was making headway at flattening the rate of COVID-19 cases; however, based on the best advice of the state’s public health and medical experts, he extended the stay-home order through the end of April.
Little said he wanted to get the state back to business by May, but only if it was safe to do so without endangering lives. Based on the best scientific knowledge available, he cautioned that a reopening of business could be achieved only if everyone continued to observe appropriate hygiene and social-distancing measures.
As of April 15, Idaho had roughly 1,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 39 deaths.
“Nobody wants to get Idaho back to work more than me,” the Governor stated. “It is our goal for most businesses to open after the end of the month; but it may not be possible if there an upward trend of severe COVID-19 cases in Idaho between now and then. We will update the (stay-home) order depending on facts and circumstances at the end of the month … If we don’t time these measures right then we can worsen the outcome for citizens’ health and the economy for weeks and months down the road.”
For those impatient with the stay-home order, the Governor emphasized that the short term sacrifice of the extended stay-home order was necessary to achieve a lasting recovery for the economy and avoid a resurgent second wave of COVID-19 cases.
Little first announced a 21-day stay-home order for the state on March 25, shortly after community spread of COVID-19 was reported in the Boise area. Idaho was the 20th state to issue a stay-home order.
Blaine County, the epicenter of Idaho’s outbreak, has faced deeper restrictions including the halt of all construction work.
Unless there is a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, Little said businesses should develop plans for reopening after April 30 with the following features:
- How to maintain social distancing between patrons and staff.
- How to provide adequate hygiene for patrons and staff.
- How to limit the number of customers visiting the business.
- How to control the flow of customers inside the business.
The Governor stated that the reimposition of stay-home orders might be necessary until better medical measure became available and that this could be on a statewide or an area-by-area basis, depending on where new COVID-19 outbreaks might occur within Idaho. He made the point that without better ways to contain the spread of the disease, good hygiene and social distancing were the best and only measures currently available.
“We are waiting for testing,” he said. “We are waiting for therapeutics. We’re waiting for vaccines. We’re waiting for health care capacity, We’re waiting for all these things to catch up to where we can continue to expand (opening the economy). I hate telling people to be patient in these trying times, but that’s the message.”
Little praised Idahoans for their efforts to date, remarking that it was the reason Idaho was beginning to flatten the curve on the rate of COVID-19 cases.
“My message is that we are making incredible progress because of the current behavior of the people of Idaho,” he said. “If you look at what we’ve been doing here, continuing to do that is the right thing to do. Continue to self-isolate as much as possible; but go ahead and go out, have a walk or a run or go somewhere – but maintain social distance.”
The details on the stay-home order extension to April 30 are posted at the coronavirus.idaho.gov website.