Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced Monday afternoon that Idaho will move back to a modified stage 3 of Idaho Rebounds, the state’s COVID-19 plan released in late April. There will be no statewide mask mandate.
The stage change, effective Oct. 27 at 12:00 a.m., means that gatherings will be limited to 50 people or less, bars will remain open but with limited seating, social distancing guidelines will remain in place and outdoor gatherings must remain at 25% capacity or less.
The state’s COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations have risen to record numbers in recent days.
“The virus is relentless and in some parts of the state there simply has been insufficient efforts to protect lives,” Little said.
Little also emphasized that he wants schools and businesses to stay open, and appealed to individual moral responsibility to do the “patriotic, right thing” by following guidelines.
Dr. Joshua Kern, a physician from St. Luke’s Magic Valley — where cases are rising and the ICU is at capacity — joined in the press conference announcement.
“The recent surge may not be something we can keep up with,” Kern said. “We’re reaching a critical tipping point.”
Throughout the pandemic, Little has declared it the right of health districts and counties to respond to their community’s needs independently of the state government.
Little repeatedly said he is “pleading” with Idahoans and is hoping that awareness will push them to comply with the “advice” of health officials.