- Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina – which all issued statewide stay-at-home-orders in April – were the first states that shut down their economies to begin reopening parts of them.
- Other states have joined them in relaxing stay-at-home orders, including Colorado, Oklahoma, Montana, Mississippi, Indiana, and Alaska.
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is also allowing certain regions of the state to begin reopening on May 16.
- The US is seeing sustained plateaus of coronavirus cases, but more Americans are still dying from COVID-19 per week than from any other common cause of death.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Around 95% of Americans were under lockdown in April to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. And it was working, as the US began seeing sustained declining plateaus of new cases.
But as federal social distancing guidelines expired at the end of April, more than half of US states began reopening.
Now, there are already talks of relieving the economic pain brought on by the lockdown – but reopening the economy might look different for every state and is likely to be done in phases.
That’s because reopening plans are dependent on various factors, like controlling the rate of infections and hospitalizations, making testing and contact tracing more widespread, making sure healthcare facilities are properly equipped to handle another resurgence, and employing social distancing practices in the workplace.
Several reopening plans, such as those laid out by the Trump administration and by researchers with the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, said that a state should see a declining number of new cases for at least two weeks before reopening. It’s a threshold that most states haven’t hit yet,The New York Times reported the first week of May.
Some states are already making moves to begin reopening parts of their economies, even as more Americans die from COVID-19 per week than from any other common cause of death, according to data analysis by Business Insider. Some, including Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, were among the last to issue stay-at-home orders, doing so in April after many other states already had in March.
In fact, in several of the states that have begun to reopen, the number of new cases of COVID-19 seem to still be steadily rising. Where most cases early in the outbreak were reported primarily in urban areas like New York and Seattle, recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that from April 13 to April 27, rural counties saw an average 125% increase in new coronavirus infections, leaping from 51 to 115 new cases per 100,000 people.
After initially reopening his state, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves slowed his ‘back to normal’ plans on May 1 when the state reported 397 new cases and 20 new deaths that day, its highest daily numbers to date.
On May 7, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration had halted the publication of new CDC research and safety guidelines for states attempting to reopen their economies, regarding how local schools, places of worship, restaurants, and health facilities should handle social distancing. The document was pulled because of the Trump administration’s ongoing preference that states assume the responsibility to determine their own reopening requirements, and that the federal government should be the “last resort” for states that need coronavirus testing support, per the AP.
Here are the states beginning to reopen their economies.
Alabama’s Gov. Kay Ivey lifted the state’s stay-at-home just 26 days after it began, and reopened beaches and retail stores.
Alabama had one of the shortest-lived stay-at-home orders, which began on April 4 and ended on April 30. Now, retail stores may operate at 50% capacity and beachgoers must stay 6 feet apart. Hair and beauty salons remain closed, and restaurants are restricted to takeout only.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy permitted some restaurants and nonessential services to begin reopening on April 24, with certain restrictions.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy allowed some restaurants and nonessential services to reopen for business, with certain restrictions. Open restaurants must take reservations and refuse walk-ins, they can be filled to only 25% capacity at one time, customers must either dine alone or with members of their household (meeting up with friends is not allowed), and restaurants must provide hand sanitizer for guests to use. Also, restaurant employees must wear protective face masks while working.
Governor Dunleavy also eased restrictions on public gatherings, saying that they can include people from different households, as long as individuals stay six feet apart. If you plan on singing or projecting your voice, however, the minimum distance apart is 10 feet.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis initiated a new ‘safer at home’ order on April 27, allowing elective medical procedures to resume and curbside delivery options for retail stores.
Colorado’s stay-at-home order expired on April 26, replaced by a “safer-at-home” policy that permitted some businesses to open their doors. Childcare facilities could reopen under certain safety measures, including keeping rooms to less than 10 children, staggering meal times, and frequently sanitizing common areas. Some retail stores and beauty salons began reopening on May 1, allowed to operate at 50% capacity.
Gyms and nightlife destinations remain closed, however, and restaurants are still restricted to take-out service. Schools will remain remote for the rest of the semester.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stay-at-home order expired April 30, and he allowed some beaches in northern Florida to reopen as early as April 17.
On Friday, April 17, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed some beaches in northern Florida to reopen, The Associated Press reported, even though the state has continued to see an increase in coronavirus cases.
DeSantis had initially left it up to local officials to close their beaches and other establishments, receiving backlash for crowded beaches swarming with spring breakers. He finally issued a statewide stay-at-home order on April 1. Since then, he has deemed the WWE Performance Centre in Orlando to be an essential business and has refused to ban church services.
In a press conference, he said that some counties could start reopening their beaches if they wanted to, adding that it was important for people to get fresh air, the AP reported. “Do it in a good way,” DeSantis said. “Do it in a safe way.”
Gatherings of 50 or more people are still banned, and people are encouraged to socially distance on the beach as they exercise or do activities like surfing, reported Business Insider’s Dominic-Madori Davis. But photos showed hundreds of locals flooding Jacksonville Beach, apparently without adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp allowed many businesses, including gyms and movie theatres, to reopen in phases beginning in April.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp allowed businesses to begin reopening in phases over the weekend, he said during a news conference on Monday, April 20.
Gyms, hair salons, barbershops, fitness centres, and massage-therapy centres were allowed to reopen on April 24, as long as they follow social distancing and “regular sanitation,” reported Business Insider’s Jake Lahut. On Monday, restaurants, private social clubs, and movie theatres could also reopen. But bars, night clubs, amusement parks, and other businesses will remain closed pending further advice from public-health experts.
Kemp didn’t give much specific detail, but said businesses should “adhere to the minimum basic operations.”
Kemp said Georgia’s rate of new infections had flattened. In response to backlash about the decision, Kemp told Fox News that “it’s a tough balance.”
“We are talking about a few businesses that I closed down to help flatten the curve, which we have done in our state,” he said. “But for us to continue to ask them to do that while they lose everything, quite honestly, there are a lot of civil repercussions of that, mental health issues. We are seeing more patients in our trauma centres in our state.”
But both President Donald Trump and local mayors have criticised the decision. “I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities,”Trump said on April 22.
His directive also “directive explicitly supersedes all local orders,” The Washington Post’s James Hohmann reported. As a result, he wrote, Georgia city mayors are worried he’s jeopardizing their citizen’s health.
“There is nothing essential about going to a bowling alley or getting a manicure in the middle of a pandemic,” Atlanta mayor Keisha Bottoms said on ABC News’ “Good Morning America.”
Kemp didn’t issue a statewide stay-at-home order until April 3, saying during a press conference at the time that a key part of his decision was that “we didn’t know … until the last 24 hours” that asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus could infect other people.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little initiated a four-phase process to reopen the state, beginning May 1.
Idaho’s stay-at-home order also expired on April 30, and Gov. Little enacted a four-stage reopening plan over the months of May and June. The first stage began on May 1 and allowed daycares, childcare centres, summer camps, and places of worship to reopen. Other nonessential business may begin reopening during the second phase, which starts May 16.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order expired on May 1, and a partial reopening began May 4.
Gov. Eric Holcomb rolled out a multi-phase plan that involves different reopening dates for different counties. Retail businesses and restaurants may operate at 50% capacity, and personal services salons may see customers by appointment only. Office workers can return to work in small or staggered groups.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds allowed gyms, libraries, and other venues to reopen in certain regions on May 1.
Gov. Kim Reynolds extended the state’s emergency declaration until May 27, but allowed businesses (including restaurants, gyms, libraries, and indoor malls) to reopen in select counties beginning May 1, under social distancing restrictions.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly began to lift the state’s lockdown measures on May 4.
Kelly’s “Ad Astra” plan breaks the reopening into three phases, which allowed some businesses to reopen May 4 as long as social distancing measures were in place, and crowds were limited to no more than 10 people.
The initial phase will last 14 days. Bars, casinos, fitness centres, museums, hair salons, and swimming pools will remain closed, and large community events will remain prohibited.
Phase two of the plan will start no earlier than May 18 and will allow childcare facilities, libraries and some organised sports facilities to reopen.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills extended a new ‘safer at home’ order through May 31, but allowed some businesses to reopen on May 1.
Beginning May 1, residents of Maine were able to resume hunting and fishing, go to drive-in movie theatres, get car washes, and visit beauty salons, under set social distancing restrictions.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz extended the state’s stay-at-home order until May 18, but allowed certain nonessential businesses to begin reopening on May 4.
Retail locations that can offer curbside pickup may do so, but services-based companies like beauty salons must remained closed.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves began easing restrictions on April 27, but backtracked the reopening after COVID-19 cases spiked in the state on May 1.
Restaurants and some retail stores began reopening on April 27 in Mississippi, and were told to operate at 50% capacity and maintain six feet of space between customers, while tattoo parlors, beauty salons, and gyms to remain closed. However, when the state’s infections and death count reached a new high on May 1, Governor Reeves decided to put additional reopening on hold.
On May 15, the Mississippi Department of Health reported that there had been 318 new COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths in one day. This infection rate was down slightly from May 14, when 393 new cases were declared, and from the week prior on March 8, when there were 404 new cases. Before the state’s reopening in late April, however, new cases lingered around 180-200 each day, and they have since been steadily on the rise. As of May 15, there were 493 total coronavirus-related deaths in the state.
Missouri’s stay-at-home order expired May 3, and Gov. Mike Parson has since reopened restaurants and stadiums.
Gov. Mike Parson allowed the reopening of movie theatres, sports stadiums, and other large venues, encouraging patrons to maintain social distancing regulations. Retail spaces are restricted to maintaining customers at 25% capacity.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock allowed select retail businesses to reopen on April 27, and restaurants and bars to resume dine-in service on May 4.
Places of worship were permitted to open on April 26, and told to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people that make social distancing difficult. Restaurants, bars, distilleries, and breweries were allowed to reopen on May 4 if they adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Businesses where sanitation and social distancing is less possible, such as gyms, music venues, movie theatres, and bowling alleys, were to remain closed.
Nebraska never had a stay-at-home order, and on May 4, Gov. Pete Ricketts eased restrictions to allow personal services businesses to reopen.
As of May 4, Gov. Pete Ricketts allowed dine-in restaurants to operate at 50% capacity. Beauty parlors and tattoo shops may also open, with a limit of serving 10 customers at one time.
Nevada’s stay-at-home order is in effect until May 15, but Gov. Steve Sisolak allowed all retail businesses to operate via ‘curbside pickup’ beginning May 1.
In Nevada, all retail stores can now operate under the restaurant curbside takeout order, and people can engage in outdoor activities such as golf and tennis, as long as they do so “in a way that prevents the spread of COVID-19.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said certain areas upstate (not New York City) may qualify to reopen beginning May 16.
Gov. Cuomo has placed some of the heaviest restrictions in the country on New York state. He is closely adhering to guidelines set by the CDC, requiring officials to show a steady, continual decline in new coronavirus infections in their areas over a two-week period before considering reopening nonessential businesses.
On May 7, Cuomo issued an executive order granting himself the ability to extend the “NY ON PAUSE” shutdown past its original end date of May 15. The order allows him to extend restrictions until June 6, but Cuomo had yet to actually make that extension as of the morning of May 11.
On May 11, Cuomo announced that three regions of New York had met the necessary CDC safety guidelines to begin reopening on May 16: the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier, and the Mohawk Valley. The initial reopening will allow some retail businesses to offer curbside pick-up, as well as construction and manufacturing projects to resume, as long as companies follow strict sanitary and social distancing precautions.
North Dakota never had a statewide mandatory stay-at-home order, and Gov. Doug Burgum invited most businesses to reopen when they want to beginning May 1.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum placed restrictions on schools, gyms, dine-in restaurants and bars, and movie theatres in early April through the end of the month. Other businesses which weren’t told to close were welcome to reopen at any time, the governor said.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine initiated a multi-phase reopening plan to begin May 1, with veterinarians and dentists allowed to return to work.
In Ohio, medical procedures, dental offices, and vet clinics were allowed to reopen on May 1. Later in the month, on May 12, retail stores can reopen with certain restrictions. Gov. DeWine has yet to say when beauty salons or dine-in restaurants will be able to welcome customers again.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt began a three-phase plan on April 24, and allowed personal care services such as spas, nail and hair salons, and pet groomers to reopen.
Under relaxed guidelines in Oklahoma for personal care businesses, customers must make appointments ahead of time and the business should maintain social distancing protocols as much as possible by staggering appointment times.
Entertainment facilities including movie theatres, sports venues, gyms, and dine-in restaurants reopened on May 1, with state guidelines saying that it’s up to the businesses to “ensure that customers and employees are maintaining 6 feet of social distancing.”
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster opened up beaches and some businesses previously deemed nonessential on April 21.
South Carolina was one of the last to issue a statewide stay-at-home order from all the states that issued such orders, doing so on April 7.
On April 20, Gov. McMaster said that department stores and some other businesses previously deemed nonessential would be allowed to reopen if they abided by social distancing guidelines. That includes clothing stores, furniture stores, and florist shops, reported Josiah Bates for Time.
“We are still in a very serious situation … we must be sure that we continue to be strict and disciplined with our social distancing,” McMaster said in a press conference. “Our goal was to cause the most damage possible to the virus, while doing the least possible damage to our businesses. South Carolina’s business is business.”
South Dakota never had a stay-at-home order, and Gov. Kristi Noem began encouraging a ‘back to normal’ approach in late April.
Gov. Noem encouraged local people and businesses to resume activities, but also to be careful and maintain social distancing as much as possible. When asked about potential surges of COVID-19 infections, Gov. Noem said she will handle those locally as they come.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee allowed restaurants to resume dine-in operations on April 27, and retail stores reopened on April 29.
In Tennessee, gyms were allowed to reopen on May 1 under rules to operate at 50% capacity and maintain a clean and sanitised environment. Reopened restaurants must also follow additional restrictions, including using disposable menus, limiting each table to six customers, and eliminating shared condiment stations.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott allowed restaurants and movie theatres to begin operating on May 1, at 25% capacity.
Malls, retailers, and dine-in restaurants reopened in Texas on May 1 at reduced capacity. Curbside delivery and to-go service had already been permitted at certain eateries since April 27. Gyms, bars, and salons remain closed.
On May 1, Gov. Greg Abbott concurred with the dangers of reopening the state on a private phone call with members of the state legislature and Congress, according to an audio recording obtained by local Texas political site Quorum Report. He had publicly acknowledged the previous week that “It’s only logical to see there would be an increase and the number of people that test positive.”
On May 7, billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, published findings from a secret shopper study he had funded showing that in the Dallas area, only 36% of eligible businesses chose to reopen on May 1. Of these companies, 96% did not meet all of the state’s mandatory safety requirements.
Smartshift, the company Cuban had hired to investigate, found that of the approximately 1,000 companies it had investigated and about 300 it had physically visited, an unnamed steakhouse chain and footwear chain were among the least compliant with the safety restrictions.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert never enacted a stay-at-home order, and eased other restrictions starting May 1.
Dine-in restaurants, public parks, and gyms reopened in Utah on May 1, and Gov. Gary Herbert increased limits on public gatherings from 10 people to 20 people, provided they adhere to social distancing protocols. Schools, however, remain closed.
Vermont’s stay-at-home order is in effect through May 15, but Gov. Phil Scott allowed certain businesses to reopen on April 27.
Governor Phil Scott allowed “outdoor retail spaces” to return to in-person shopping on April 27, with a restriction of 10 shoppers at one time. Outdoor farmers markets also reopened on May 1, under rules to “transition away from shopping and social events, to primarily a food distribution system.”
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s new ‘safer at home’ order began on May 4, and allowed restaurants to open for outdoor dining.
Beginning May 4, hair salons, barbershops, and pet groomer were allowed to resume operations, and must maintain social distancing and proper sanitation between customers.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon had never put in place a stay-at-home order, and he began lifting other restrictions May 1.
On May 1, Gov. Gordon allowed the reopening of gyms, beauty salons, barber shops, massage parlors, and tattoo shops, among other personal service businesses.