Eager to reboot the US economy after unprecedented unemployment claims and instable markets, Donald Trump has been impatient to resume business as usual and lift Americans from stay-at-home orders across the US in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
He shared his "Opening Up America Again" guidelines, borrowing from his campaign slogans, with governors on Thursday, with plans to gradually reopen businesses as soon as 1 May.
The president told governors that "you're gonna call your shots" and stressed that the guidelines are recommendations. He previously said he has "total authority" to determine how states can reopen. (States and local municipalities alone determine whether to end their quarantines.)
He said: "If you're ready and you have those beautiful, low numbers like some of you have, let's get going. Let's open up your state."
To begin re-opening, states must have a "downward trajectory" of "influenza-like illnesses" and confirmed Covid-19 cases within a two-week period and must prove "robust testing" for at-risk workers.
States must also be able to "quickly set up safe and and efficient" screening sites and contact tracing and ensure "sentinel surveillance" sites are also screening asymptomatic people.
The states also must have personal protective equipment and other medical supplies readily available in the event of a surge in cases, and protect frontline workers as well as public transit riders, among other safety protocols.
Phase One recommends Americans continue physical distancing efforts in public and to "avoid socialising" in groups of more than 10 people. It also recommends avoiding nonessential travel.
Under Phase One of reopening:
- Employers should continue remote working and to close common areas and "enforce strict social distancing protocol."
- Restaurants, places of worship, gyms and movie theatres can reopen with physical distancing measures enforced. Bars should remain closed.
- Doctors can resume elective surgeries.
- Schools that have closed should remain closed, and hospitals and senior living facilities should remain off limits to visitors.
States without a spike in cases through Phase One can move to Phase Two:
- Schools, restaurants, bars and gyms to reopen with a smaller occupancy limit.
- Non-essential travel can resume
- People can gather in groups no larger than 50 people, but employers should encourage remote working.
Without any "rebound" in virus activity during Phase Two, states can move to Phase Three:
- Visits to hospitals and senior living facilities can resume.
- Large venues can remain open but with strict physical distancing guidelines in place.
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