Some Americans might come out of lockdown by May 1, under a gradual easing of Covid-19 restrictions across the US envisioned by the White House and dubbed “Opening Up America Again.”
President Donald Trump announced the plan in a White House press conference on Thursday evening. The three-phase roadmap is supposed to be implemented by state governors and regional authorities, with federal support.
“America wants to be open and Americans want to be open,” Trump said, noting that a national shutdown is “not a sustainable and long-term solution.”
“We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time.”
The proposal was presented on a conference call with state governors earlier in the day, at which point it was obtained by several media outlets, including the New York Times, Reuters and CBS News, which posted screenshots and details on Twitter.
The outline is “based on up-to-date data and readiness; mitigates risk of resurgence; protects the most vulnerable,” and is “implementable on a statewide or county-by-county basis at governors’ discretion,” according to the document.
Before a phased reopening, a state or region has to record a decrease in total Covid-19 cases and positive tests as measured over a 14-day period and ensure “robust testing” for healthcare workers.
The first phase of the reopening envisions the continuation of “social distancing” in public and gatherings of no more than 10 people, while vulnerable individuals would still have to shelter in place. “Non-essential travel” should be avoided.
Employers are urged to encourage telework and phase in physical work, while closing off common areas and enforcing “strict social distancing protocols.” Schools and bars would remain closed, and senior living facilities would not allow outside visitors.
Sit-down restaurants, movie theaters, sporting venues, worship sites and gyms will be allowed to reopen only if they can enforce “strict social distancing” and sanitation protocols.
Bars, schools, travel and gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed in the second phase, while large venues will have to observe “moderate” social distancing.
Even in phase three, everyone is supposed to minimize time in crowds and public interactions. Large venues, bars and gyms will have to cope with the “biggest changes” compared to a time before Covid-19. All of this is conditional on the number of infections not rebounding significantly, according to the outline.