Idaho’s extended stay-home order expires at midnight and the state will move into the first stage of reopening Friday, Gov. Brad Little announced Thursday.
Idaho has been under an extended stay-home order since March 25 as part of Little’s effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
Little made the highly anticipated reopening announcement during a remote news conference Thursday.
“We have met the criteria to enter into stage one of our safe, responsible approach to reopening Idaho,” Little said. “Starting tomorrow, May 1, the stay-home order will expire.”
Earlier this month, the State Board of Education approved criteria local school leaders would need to meet on a case-by-case basis. Otherwise, physical school buildings remain closed and remote learning continues through the end of the academic year.
Lifting the statewide stay-home order is part of the first criteria local school leaders would need to meet if they hope to reopen before the end of the academic year.
“The statewide stay-at-home order has been lifted and replaced by the four-stage plan,” State Board spokesman Mike Keckler said in a written statement Thursday. “So unless there is a city or county stay-at-home order in place, the schools can resume operations with the social distancing requirements outlined in the four-stage plan.”
School officials looking to reopen this academic year must also have the cleaning protocols and social distancing plans within their building approved by the local public health department, Keckler added.
While lifting the statewide stay-home order is the first box local school leaders need to check before reopening, the rest of Little’s first stage of reopening doesn’t really apply to education. Under stage one, places of worship, daycares and youth camps will be able to reopen. Many retail businesses will also be able to reopen if they can provide delivery or curbside pickup.
Little said he will evaluate the health care situation every two weeks before deciding if Idaho can advance to the next stage. As of now, Little’s timeline calls for four stages of gradually reopening Idaho’s economy that run through June 13-26.
However, Little said advancing to new stages is contingent on Idaho not seeing any significant increase in COVID-19 cases. If there is a spike, Little confirmed he would pump the brakes on reopening or even reintroduce additional restrictions.
“In Idaho we’re entering into a new chapter of our fight with the coronavirus,” Little said.
Even with the stay-home order expiring, Little and Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen asked Idahoans need to continue to wear face coverings in public, wash their hands frequently and avoid gatherings of any size, both public and private.
The criteria and stages of reopening businesses are available online.