Idaho Moves To Phase 3 Of 4-Stage Reopening Plan

File photo. Gov. Brad Little speaks March 13, 2020 at a news conference. On Wednesday, April 15, he extended a stay-at-home order to the end of April, saying it’s needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. CREDIT: Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman via AP
File photo. Gov. Brad Little speaks March 13, 2020 at a news conference. On Wednesday, April 15, he extended a stay-at-home order to the end of April, saying it’s needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. CREDIT: Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman via AP

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Idaho Governor Brad Little announced Thursday that his state is ready to move on to the next phase of its coronavirus reopening plan, beginning Saturday.

“Gatherings of up to 50 people can occur where appropriate physical distancing and precautionary measures are observed,” Little said.

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“In addition, after consultation with movie theater operators and our public health team, we decided to move up the opening of movie theaters by two weeks, from stage four to stage three, beginning Saturday, again, as long as protocols are followed,” he said.

Little says his team also decide to advance the opening of bars by two weeks, though night clubs that offer dancing must wait until the next phase. Sporting and other events planned for large venues must also wait.

The governor said vulnerable people should continue to stay home when possible and working from home should still be encouraged.

Little says the state continues to work to process a large backlog of unemployment claims. He says the Department of Labor has added people and phone lines to take more calls from applicants.

“Nobody anticipated that, within two weeks, we would get the same amount of claims we had all of last year,” he said. “I’m not making excuses for it. It’s unacceptable. But we are throwing a lot of resources and a lot of time at it.”

Little says the state continues to make loans to small businesses, but he says he’s surprised more companies haven’t taken advantage of that.

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