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'We almost did not make it to Stage 4 this week': Idaho Gov. Brad Little announces Idaho will move into final reopening stage

Little says Idaho almost did not make it to Stage 4. He stressed the importance of practicing social distancing and other measures to keep yourself and others safe.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Governor Brad Little announced Thursday that Idaho will enter the final phase of its reopening plan on Saturday, June 13, but says the state nearly did not make it to Stage 4.

“I want to stress something very important, we almost did not make it to Stage 4 this week,” Little said.  “Despite our incredible progress, there are some in Idaho who are not practicing measures to keep themselves and others safe.”

However, Little said efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus in March and April were effective, and it's important to continue our economic rebound.

Under Stage 4, gatherings of more that 50 people are permitted as long as social distancing is practiced. 

"On Saturday, 100% of businesses will be able to open their doors as we enter Stage 4 of our Idaho Rebounds plan," Little said. "That means, senior living centers and other congregate facilities can resume under strict protocols to protect residents and workers. Nightclubs can operate with diminishing standing room occupancy. Large venues such as sporting events can operate under limited physical testing protocols."

During Thursday's press conference, state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn discussed some of the criteria, or metrics, for moving from Stage 3 to 4. She admitted there has been a surge in COVID cases in early June. But said there is a reason.

"Part of that is due to good news is that our testing has gone up dramatically," Hahn said.

"Our number of tests jumped from four to 5,000 per week, up to 10,000 in the last week of May. We think that's one reason why our case counts went up, we are simply testing more people."

Idaho entered Stage 3 two weeks ago, allowing bars, movie theaters and waterparks to reopen with groups of up to 50 people, as long as proper social distancing is maintained. Those business were originally set to open in the fourth phase of the governor's plan.

Dine-in restaurants, gyms and hair and nail salons were permitted to reopen during Stage 2, while Stage 1 allowed places of worship, daycares and many retailers to reopen on May 1.

Stage 4 is scheduled to start on June 13 and runs through June 20.

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