2. First Things First

Are you eligible to reopen?

Authority over location and activity varies by level of government. Even if the state allows something, your local government may not. Organizations and their boards must be attuned to each and READ THE ORDERS in addition to communication documents.

 

They are THE official direction with the greatest detail.

 

STATE  FIRST

Indiana

Governor Holcomb’s Executive Orders and Back on Track Indiana

Health Department and Department of Labor

 

Other States

US Chamber of Commerce is tracking state reopening plans HERE

Governing.com is tracking those plans HERE

 

LOCAL & COUNTY NEXT

Greater Indianapolis

City of Indianapolis and Mayor’s Executive Orders and Action Center

Marion County Health Department links to Public Health Orders, FAQs, and Situation Reports

Other Indiana

Directory of other Indiana cities and towns

Directory of other Indiana county health departments

 

FEDERAL

The White House Opening Up America Again and Resources & Updates

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Information & Resources​​​

Help, please.
I don't understand.

The difficulty with official documents is that they can't cover everything, and they are written by attorneys who forget that most people think differently from them.

Here are some tips for thinking like an attorney as you read the orders.

Don't rely on communications documents.

Face it. If it is pretty, with pictures, plain English, and no "whereas" is is a communications piece writing by a PR type. It is less detailed, less exact, and less reliable. Go to the source - the executive or public health order.

Dates are aspirational, and future stages are undefined until announced (one by one).

Communications pieces are announcing tentative dates for all sorts of things. Read the order. I'll bet you a dollar that the only date that is firm is the start of the current stage. Even the date used for the end of a stage is subject to change. Treats all future dates as aspirational. And expect the specifics for future stages to change.

Pay special attention to words like may, can, must, and shall.

They are used intentionally and specifically. Do not create wiggle room where there is none. For that matter, attorneys say what they mean and mean what they say, no more no less. The problem is that they don't always understand the impact for your sector. Everything will evolve, but for now read everything simply and precisely.

If yours is "like" a business listed, consider your business in that category.

The lists are often intended to be examples using "such as" or "including" at the beginning or "and like facilities" at the end. Don't look for loopholes on how yours isn't like ones listed. Instead ask how your organization IS like them, especially from the viewpoint of a government official who may not understand your discipline.

Read the whole thing, not just the section you think you fit into.

I say this for two reasons. First, the general sections apply to everyone and are likely to include requirements you must meet that are not listed in the business-specific sections - requirements that the communication documents may not focus on. Second, arts and culture organizations are often complicated creatures. They have elements of retail, park, restaurant, entertainment, and more. For example, Section 4 of Indiana's EO 20-26 sets out a specific plan that all entities must have, share with employees, and post to reopen.

Group size is a ban, not permission.

Orders generally say that any gathering OVER a certain number is banned, or they are limited to that number. That means that any group or gathering UNDER the number MIGHT be allowed if distancing and sanitation measures are in place AND if nothing else in the order says that the place is closed, the activity is not permitted, or other limitations are specified. In other words, the UP TO ___ guidance is not permission.

Be careful about your assumptions.

If you hear that inner voice saying that a certain requirement can't include your situation, stop. Write it down as a question to ask your attorney.

 

If you have more questions, send a message.

 

Remember

This is educational content.

It is NOT legal advice.

strategy, governance & management

for nonprofits, foundations, government & community groups

 

812-822-2122

peterson [at] sarapetersonconsulting.com