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Although there have been nearly one million COVID-19 cases and 57,000 deaths in the U.S., the pandemic has been just as economically devastating, too. The White House and several state governors have thus addressed the possibility of partially reopening their economies to potentially stimulate spending and restore falling employment numbers.
In recent days, certain states have begun turning these theoretical plans into action, even as certain public health experts have warned against reopening economies before proper testing and contact tracing tools are available to reduce the likelihood of localized COVID-19 outbreaks. Whether these reopening states will experience such outbreaks remains to be seen.
In Alaska, where Governor Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, first issued stay-at-home orders on March 28, non-essential businesses were allowed to reopen on April 24 with strict new rules. Restaurants, for example, can only seat up to 25 percent normal capacity and take reservations, as all walk-ins are banned.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, did not renew stay-at-home orders upon their expiration on April 26, so retail businesses have reopened for curbside pickups. Personal care businesses will be able to reopen on May 1 as well.
Perhaps the most controversial of all the states set to reopen, Georgia – whose Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, has publicly battled Donald Trump about his state’s reopening plan – has now allowed all businesses to reopen, but with strict provisions such as regular fever testing for workers.
Minnesota’s stay-at-home order expires on May 3, but on April 27, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, permitted over 100,000 residents working in offices, industrial settings, and agricultural roles to return to work.
When Mississippi’s shelter-in-place orders expired on April 27, select businesses reopened at half their usual capacity. However, under the new rules enacted by Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican, businesses including gyms, spas, pet grooming centers, and other spaces associated with the spread of COVID-19 remained closed.
Montana’s stay-at-home orders expired on April 26, at which time religious spaces reopened. The next day, retail stores reopened, and on May 4, restaurants and bars will be allowed to partially reopen. Montana Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, enacted these changes while reminding citizens that COVID-19 remains prevalent in the state.
Unlike most U.S. states, Oklahoma has never issued a statewide stay-at-home order. Nevertheless, many businesses associated with the spread of COVID-19 remained closed until April 24, when Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, allowed pet grooming businesses, barbershops, and salons to reopen. On May 1, other businesses including restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, sporting venues, and religious spaces will reopen under strict new rules.
Whereas most U.S. states issued stay-at-home orders in March, South Carolina did so on April 7. On April 20, Governor Henry McMaster, a Republican, allowed retail businesses to reopen if they welcomed at most 20 percent their usual capacity of customers.
Although Tennessee’s stay-at-home order lasts through April 30, restaurants began reopening on April 27, and retail stores are set to reopen soon as well. Under Republican Governor Bill Lee’s orders, any business that reopens must do so while welcoming no more than 50 percent of its usual capacity of customers.
If your state has reopened, are you fearful for your safety or relieved that operations are returning to a new normal? Sound off in the comments!