President Trump announced on Thursday a new plan to reopen the United States economy in three stages. After the devastating toll that the coronavirus outbreak posed on both public health and the global economy, experts are questioning exactly how to allow people to return to work without triggering another surge in new cases.
In the announcement on Thursday, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence revealed that the plan to re-open the economy will come in three phases that slowly see non-essential workers returning to normal life. “America wants to be open, and Americans want to be open,” Said President Trump during the coronavirus task force briefing on Thursday evening. “As I’ve said for a long time now a national shutdown is not a sustainable solution. To preserve the health of our citizens we must also preserve the health and function of our economy. Over the long haul you can’t do one without the other. It cannot be done,” the President said.
The new guidelines will require different types of businesses to adhere to social distancing guidelines while opening their doors once again. Each set of guidelines has been issued to each respective governor within the United States, and Trump has ordered them to make decisions on behalf of their state instead of opening up the entire country at once.
Since not every state has been hit as hard as New York, places with less cases and resulting deaths could see things open back up again as soon as the end of the month or first couple weeks of May. However, it could still be months before the outbreak is stable enough to completely re-open the economy for everyone, including at-risk groups or massive gatherings like concerts and sporting events with fans.
The First Phase
Phase one asks that all vulnerable individuals continue to shelter in place to maintain their health. Public gatherings of more than ten people should be minimized, and workers should only return to work if they can do so safely. It will allow for the opening of gyms, restaurants, churches, and theaters under strict social distancing protocols.
People should practice social distancing and maintain a distance of ten feet from others when in public. The first phase also asks that people wear personal protective equipment such as masks when in public to prevent the spread of the virus, and urges all hospitals and homes for the elderly to prohibit any visitors at all. Essentially, it’s what we’re doing already except restaurants may be able to open back up under limited capacity, elective surgeries can resume, and gyms can open under strict sanitation limitations and with social distancing measures.
The Second Phase
Phase two allows for schools to reopen under strict social distancing protocols. Non-essential travel can resume, meaning people can begin to go on vacation or travel for leisure as long as they maintain proper hygiene and practice and places like bars can reopen with diminished capacity.
Gatherings of more than 50 people are strongly discouraged during this phase, meaning that we could start seeing concerts and live events happen at a much smaller, more intimate capacity than ever before. It’s either going to be very expensive to see your favorite band with just a handful of other people, or bands and venues are going to do multiple nights of concerts at each venue during a tour in order to make the same amount they could have previously gotten in one night.
The Third Phase
Phase three allows for virtually all businesses to reopen with enforced sanitization protocols, and at-risk populations can slowly return to normal life. Schools and other activities for children will be open as usual after a soft opening in phase two, and larger gatherings will be able to take place once again under enforced sanitation measures.
Vulnerable individuals such as the elderly or the immunocompromised will be able to return to work or regular life under social distancing and sanitation measures. Certain large gatherings can take place, though some events are already at-risk after states like California said no major festivals or concerts will happen until there is a vaccine widely available to the general public.
Read the full document that includes all details of the plan to reopen the United States economy here.