Trump Releases Plan for Reopening States

    Guidelines are divided into three phases.

    Finance | April 2020 | Ben Coley
    Two burgers being brought over by a waiter.
    Unsplash/Peter Dawn
    Before the first phase, states must pass what’s described as “gating criteria.”

    The Trump administration released a multi-phased plan Thursday for states to use as a guideline to reopen their economies.

    The plan, called “Re-opening America Again,” will be led by governors who should tailor the guidelines to their local circumstances. Trump told the state leaders on a conference call that “you are going to call your own shots.” The plan isn’t mandatory.

    The guideline advises states to reopen in three phases. Before the first phase, states must pass what’s described as “gating criteria.” There must be a downward trajectory of reported symptoms in a two-week period and a downward movement of documented cases or positive tests in a two-week period. Hospitals must also be able to treat all patients without crisis care and have robust testing in place.

    The guidelines say states should have the ability “to quickly set up safe and efficient screening and testing sites for symptomatic individuals and trace contacts of COVID+ results” and the ability to “quickly and independently supply sufficient Personal Protective Equipment and critical medical equipment to handle dramatic surge in need.”

    In the first phase, vulnerable individuals—defined as the elderly and those with underlying conditions—must continue to shelter in place. Groups of more than 10 people should be avoided and nonessential travel should be minimized.

    In addition, large venues like restaurants, movie theaters, and arenas/stadiums can operate under “strict physical distancing protocols,” but bars should remain closed.

    It’s recommended to employers that workers continue to telework. Schools should remain closed and visits to senior living centers and hospitals should be prohibited. Elective surgeries can resume and gyms can open if they maintain strict distance protocols.

    States can move toward the second phase if they’ve seen no rebound in symptoms or cases and they’ve satisfied the gating criteria a second time.

    In the second phase, the vulnerable population must continue to shelter in place. People must avoid gatherings of 50 or more and nonessential travel can resume. Large venues can scale back their physical distancing restrictions and bars can reopen with a restricted standing-room capacity. Telework is still encouraged and schools can reopen, but people still can’t visit senior centers or hospitals. 

    Phase three is for states that see no rebound and have satisfied the gate criteria three times. The vulnerable population can resume public interactions, but should maintain physical distancing. Low-risk individuals should limit time in crowded environments.

    Restaurants can operate under a limited physical distancing protocol and bars can increase their standing-room capacity. Visits to senior facilities and hospitals can resume and employees can return to work on an unrestricted basis.

    Trump said some states like Montana, Wyoming or North Dakota, could resume activity as soon as Friday based on the reopening plan. The nation’s leader has said on multiple occasions that some states could reopen prior to May 1.

    "Now that we have passed the peak in new cases, we are starting our life again. We are starting rejuvenation of our economy again, in a safe and structured and a very responsible fashion," Trump said. "We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time."