As the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the United States economy, President Donald Trump has unveiled new federal guidelines for reopening the country.
Yesterday, the White House announced a plan formally known as “Opening Up America Again,” which lays out a three-phase process to restart the economy on a state-by-state basis. The plan would keep restrictions in place in the hardest-hit areas, with less-affected parts of the country to reopen sooner.
“America wants to be open, and Americans want to be open,” Trump told reporters. “We must have a working economy, and we want to get it back very, very quickly.”
Under the first phase, vulnerable people — defined as the elderly or individuals with underlying health conditions — must continue to shelter in place. Bars and schools will stay closed, but stores and restaurants as well as movie theaters, sporting venues and places of worship will open with strict social distancing guidelines. Some people will also be able to return to work in phases, even though teleworking — or working remotely when possible — is still encouraged under the plan.
In the second phase, non-essential travel will be allowed to resume, while bars and schools can reopen with some restrictions. And in phase three, workplaces will no longer have restrictions, and vulnerable people can return to their social interactions albeit still following social distancing rules. Visits to hospitals and nursing homes will be permitted at this time, and bars will be able to increase their standing-room capacity.
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In his address, Trump said that as many as 29 states might be able to move forward with the first phase as soon as today — so long as they’re able to prove a downward trend of confirmed cases over a 14-day period. As of Friday, COVID-19 has sickened more than 672,200 people in the U.S. and led to at least 33,300 deaths.
The guidelines have received approval from the administration’s health advisors, including White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert. “The dominating drive of this,” Fauci said, “was to make sure that this is done in the safest way possible.”
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