Opening Up America Again – Guidelines
On April 16, 2020, President Trump rolled out his “Opening Up America Again” guidelines. He said that the reopening of the US would be done “one careful step at a time” but instructed governors to move “very, very quickly, depending on what they want to do”. He said that healthy citizens would be able to return to work “as conditions allow”.
In his daily briefing on Thursday, President Trump declared “the next front in our war – opening up America again”.
“America wants to be open and Americans want to be open,” he said. “A national shutdown is not a sustainable long-term solution.” There have been many organized rallies across the country where Americans are encouraging Governors to get their states open. People are suffering. Funds have run out and many businesses are on the brink of closing forever.
President Trump stated that Americans should maintain social distancing and if you don’t feel well — stay home. Dr. Birx strongly suggested that if you are sick or if go to work and then don’t feel well, you should go home and stay there until you are symptom-free. Many Americans still tend to go to work even if they are sick; however, this is now being highly discouraged.
Nearly 17 million people were fired, laid off or furloughed without pay during the first three weeks of the shutdown and many who have filed for unemployment in their states are not getting responses, updates or funds. The unemployment systems in many states seem to be broken and lack of communication is a huge issue.
President Trump also expressed concerns regarding American’s mental health. He feels a prolonged lockdown will inflict a serious toll on public health with a sharp rise in drug and alcohol abuse, heart disease and other “physical/mental” problems.
The guidelines for “Opening up America Again” outline three phases for states to gradually ease their lockdowns. The administration’s 18-page guidance document details three phases to reopen state economies, with each phase lasting, at minimum, 14 days.
They include some recommendations across all three phases including good personal hygiene and employers developing policies to ensure social distancing, testing, and contact tracing.
Phase one includes much of the current lockdown measures such as avoiding non-essential travel and not gathering in groups. But it says large venues such as restaurants, places of worship and sports venues “can operate under strict physical distancing protocols”.
If there is no evidence of a resurgence of the coronavirus, Phase two allows non-essential travel to resume. The guidance says schools can reopen and bars can operate “with diminished standing-room occupancy”.
Under Phase three, states which are still seeing a downward trend of symptoms and cases can allow “public interactions” with physical distancing and the unrestricted staffing of worksites. Visits to care homes and hospitals can resume and bars can increase their standing room capacity.
Some regions could begin returning to normal after a month-long evaluation period, at the earliest, according to the document.
In places where there are more infections or where rates begin to rise, it could take longer.
The co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, Dr. Deborah Birx, told Thursday’s briefing that as states worked through the three phases, they could allow for more and more employees to return to work in increments.
Phase three would be the “new normal”, she said, and would still include suggestions that vulnerable people should avoid crowded spaces.