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true true true

Your 'Stay-At-Home' Questions Answered: Yes, You Can Do Yardwork

Bloomington coronavirus news

(WFIU/WTIU News)

Coronavirus continues to be of great concern to area residents, who sent more than three dozen questions to our newsroom this week. Our City Limits team tackles many of them in today’s report.

One question asked whether Indiana is on lockdown.

The answer is no, not technically. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Monday issued a stay-at-home order that still allows Hoosiers to continue to do things essential to the health and safety of families and pets.

But it’s still worth breaking down what the order means and what it doesn’t mean.

Several of you asked if you can go for a walk. For instance, Melinda Swenson asked, “can I go for a walk in my neighborhood if I stay for away from my neighbors? Walk my dog?”

Holcomb’s executive order says yes, as long as you practice social distancing. The order cites the examples of walking, hiking, running or biking “without limitation.” He says individuals may go to public parks and open outdoor regulation areas, though access to playgrounds are closed because they could be places that would spread COVID-19.

READ MORE: Bloomington Officials Close City Hall, Playgrounds, Workout Stations

It’s safe to say you can work alone in your yard, as another listener asked – if you are working more than six feet away from another person.

Bloomington resident Mike Vernon wants to know if he can still play golf.

Bloomington’s Cascades Golf Course is still open but has put some precautions in place. Julie Ramey of the Parks and Recreation Department says golfers must have a tee time so people don’t congregate in the clubhouse. Individuals can’t ride together in golf carts. And a special foam wedge has been put in holes that will keep balls from falling all the way in. That way, golfers won’t be touching the pins in the holes. Some other area courses are open with similar restrictions.

Tricia Quakenbush asked if the new order would allow stores like Hobby Lobby, Joann’s and Michael’s to stay open.

Hobby Lobby in Bloomington planned to close Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Michael’s was open and still was classified as an essential business Tuesday afternoon but was playing it “day-to-day.”

The best advice is to call the store ahead to see if it’s open at least for curbside pick-up or has closed under the government order, which leaves the “essential business” definition open to some interpretation.

The executive order lists stores that sell supplies to work from home and supplies for essential businesses and operations as places that can stay open but does not specifically list fabric, sewing supplies or other specific things that would be sold at the kinds of stores asked about.

There’s also a question about whether window tint shops can stay open. The executive order says specifically that stores that sell automobile supplies can be open, including dealers, parts, supplies, repair and maintenance. Nothing in it about window tint shops.

Holcomb acknowledges the order can’t cover every detail of what can be opened. Tuesday he said if individuals have questions about what their employer is doing:

“First go to your employer, show them what you know if there’s a misunderstanding and if that doesn’t work, we need to know about it.”

But the order would cover breweries and wineries and under the exemption of food and beverage manufacturing and production. It also allows hotels and motels to stay open, though a lot of hotels have temporarily closed including the JW Marriott in Indianapolis.

The order encourages manufacturing companies, distributors and supply chain companies producing and supplying essential products and services to stay open. It specifically mentions healthcare, pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, chemicals and sanitization, agriculture, waste pickup and disposal, energy and about a dozen other examples. The energy exemption would apply to propane delivery, which was the topic of one question.

Many health-related questions involve answers provided by experts on Noon Edition last week. One person asked about her 20-year-old son coming in and out of the home where there are kids and an 81-year-old.

The medical experts we’ve talked to over the last couple of weeks all say staying home and trying not to expose yourself or others to the virus is imperative. They also say besides social distancing, it’s important to wash hands often, to keep from touching your face and to disinfect surfaces where the virus could live for three days if touched by someone who was infected.

Many have worried if COVID-19 can impact animals. Anita Bookwalter asked specifically if dogs can be infected:

Indiana State Veterinarian Dr. Bret Marsh said, “At this point we have no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread or become ill by this coronavirus.” 

Our experts have also said it’s best to follow the guidance of the CDC, the Indiana Department of Health or your county board of health.

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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