Governor Brad Little is giving the go-ahead to begin stage two of reopening Idaho on Saturday.

The governor announced his decision during a news conference this afternoon saying efforts to mitigate the coronavirus from spreading in Idaho are working.

This weekend 95 percent of all businesses in the state could be open again. Including: restaurants, hair and nail salons, and gyms as long as they follow social-distancing guidelines.

One big change, bars can reopen in stage three on May 30 instead of waiting until June 13 for stage four.

The governor says this change is based upon the scientific data his coronavirus team has gathered during the last few weeks. He says, "I would rather loosen it up than tighten it up. I wanted to give everybody as much certainty as we possibly can, and that's a good reason to be real accurate about it. It's a little hard to determine the difference be a bar and a restaurant."

Business owners are still urged to follow safety protocols established by the state to help slow the spread. Along with the small-business grants the state is offering to help local businesses during the pandemic, it is now offering a 30-day supply of personal protective equipment as well. Businesses may apply for the PPE here: https://supplies.idaho.gov/

Nightclubs and large venues like movie theaters and concert spaces will still remain closed.

For more information on stage 2 of "Idaho Rebounds" please refer to the press release from Governor Little below.

Boise, Idaho – Governor Brad Little announced today that small businesses have a new resource to access masks, gloves, and sanitizer as the state enters Stage 2 of the four-stage Idaho Rebounds plan to safely and responsibly open Idaho’s economy.

Idaho small businesses can obtain a 30-day supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for their employees and patrons at supplies.idaho.gov.

“Health and the economy are not mutually exclusive – they are interconnected,” Governor Little said. “It’s been a challenge for small businesses to acquire PPE in quantities appropriate for their size. We don’t want the lack of access to PPE to inhibit small businesses from opening, and this new resource is an interim bridge to help them get back to work safely and build consumer confidence while the supply chain normalizes.”

Idaho is leading the country in its support of small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this week, Idaho small businesses started applying for the Idaho Rebound cash grants. Governor Little made $300 million available to small businesses in direct cash support – more than any other state. Idaho’s handling of federal relief funds and prioritization of small businesses has drawn praise from the White House.

Governor Little also announced Idaho has met the criteria to enter Stage 2 on Saturday. Additional details are available at rebound.idaho.gov.

Ninety percent of businesses were able to open their doors on May 1 when Idaho entered Stage 1. Many more began offering curbside services since mid-April. As Idaho enters Stage 2 on Saturday, 95-percent of Idaho businesses will be able to open their doors as long as protocols are followed.

In addition, he said he decided to move the opening of bars up from Stage 4 to Stage 3, due to downward trends and after close consultation with public health experts. If Idaho continues to hit benchmarks, then bars can reopen on May 30 – two weeks earlier than previously anticipated.

Governor Little also said he decided to modify the 14-day self-quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers coming to Idaho. Only visitors from hot spots – places with prevalent community spread – are required to self-quarantine for 14 days after entering the state. The move should help Idaho’s vital tourism industry while keeping Idahoans safe.

In Stage 2, starting Saturday:

Restaurants can open for dine-in as long as protocols are followed.

Indoor gyms, recreation facilities, hair salons and other close contact services can open as long as protocols are followed.

Bars should begin making plans to open in Stage 3. Protocols for bars to open in Stage 3 will be posted Friday here.

Just like in Stage 1, there is no requirement for people to self-isolate. But vulnerable individuals are strongly urged to continue to self-isolate if they can.

Only out-of-state travelers from hot spots are required to self-quarantine for 14 days after entering the state.

Employees should return to work in phases and continue to telework whenever possible.

We should all minimize non-essential travel.

Gatherings, both public and private, of less than 10 people can occur where appropriate physical distancing and precautionary measures are observed.

Social distancing and sanitation protocols should be followed, including washing hands and cleaning surfaces regularly and wearing a face covering in public.

Large venues such as large sporting events and movie theatres remain closed until later stages.

“Generally, things are better in Idaho than elsewhere. We were one of the last states in the country to have a confirmed case, and now – because of the great people of Idaho – we are one of the first states to reopen our economy responsibly with a staged plan. But the strength of our economy depends on employee and consumer confidence. We cannot be inattentive to the practices that got us here. We all must continue practicing preventive measures such as wearing face coverings in public, washing hands and surfaces frequently, and limiting exposure to others,” Governor Little said.

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