Reopening America: States Begin Lifting Coronavirus Stay-at-Home Restrictions

Reopening America: States Begin Lifting Coronavirus Stay-at-Home Restrictions

Stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic have been lifted in several states beginning May 1, with a patchwork of restrictions in place. Most school systems will remain closed through mid-May or for the remainder of the academic year.

More than 30 million people nationwide have applied for unemployment benefits in the six weeks between mid-March and April 30. Meanwhile, experts predict the coronavirus pandemic may take two years to run its course until 60% to 70% of people have been infected with the infectious disease. Here is where all 50 states stand on reopening.

States Begin Lifting Stay-at-Home Orders

Georgia, Oklahoma, Alaska, Arkansas, Texas, Florida, North Dakota, Nebraska, Tennessee and Idaho have begun reopening parts of the economy. Idaho’s four-phase plan reopened 90% of businesses, so long as they take steps to maintain proper social distancing and sanitation protocols. Several others are considering partial returns to pre-coronavirus activity and others have announced conditions that must be met before reopening.

  • In Oklahoma, dining facilities, gyms, theaters and places of worship were allowed to reopen May 1, as long as they adhere to certain health guidelines.
  • Alabama began reopening the state’s beaches, restaurants and retail stores May 1 as the state began its phased return to business. Alabama could reopen its schools beginning in June for summer school and school activities. The state has asked superintendents to consider moving the start of the 2020/2021 school year to later in August.
  • The governor of Kentucky announced certain public health criteria the state will have to meet before reopening parts of the economy, including having 14 days where coronavirus cases are decreasing.
  • In Texas, in-store retail services, dine-in restaurant service, movie theaters, shopping malls, museums and libraries will be able to open with 25% occupancy under certain conditions. Schools will not reopen this school year. (Utah has reopened under similar conditions.)
  • Iowa has lifted certain restrictions in select counties starting May 1.
  • In Tennessee, retailers and restaurants have begun reopening at 50 percent capacity in 89 of the state’s 95 counties.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced restaurants and parks can reopen with restrictions beginning May 7.
  • Wyoming extended restrictions for gatherings of more than 10 people through May 15.
  • West Virginia announced a phased reopening plan, “West Virginia Strong – The Comeback,” beginning with elective medical operations followed by businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
  • Virginia’s stay-at-home order extends until June 10, the longest statewide mandate issued.
  • Monday marked the end of South Carolina’s stay-at-home orders. South Carolina reopened beaches and and retail stores April 20, with some social distancing restrictions ahead of summertime tourist season.
  • North Carolina is easing its stay-at-home rules effective Friday, when the state’s first phase of its three-phase reopening begins. Restaurants and bars would still be limited to drive-thru, takeout or delivery service under the new executive order. Salons, barbershops, gyms and other personal care businesses remain closed.
  • Effective May 1, Utah allowed certain establishment including gyms and salons to reopen and restaurants to begin offering a dine-in option with precautions in place.
  •  Stay-at-home orders also have been extended in Nevada, Arizona, Louisiana and New York.

States in Midwest, Northeast and West Coast form Coronavirus Coalitions

Governors have taken vastly different tactics in developing plans to reopen business in their states and remove social-distancing restrictions. States in the Midwest, Northeast and West Coast have formed regional coalitions to begin reopening, pool resources and foster regional recovery. See this map of US state Coronavirus reopenings.

Midwest Coalition

The Midwest Coalition includes Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. To date, Ohio has extended its stay-at-home order through May 29, while Michigan’s order was extended through May 28. Wisconsin’s order is expected to run through May 26, however legislators have been in discussions to loosen the restrictions in some regions sooner. The governor of Illinois revealed a five-phase plan to reopen as the state remains under a stay-at-home order through May 20. Kentucky issued regulations for businesses that can begin reopening May 11. Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz extended the state’s restrictions to May 18, however some nonessential businesses gradually began to return May 4 with curbside delivery and pick-up.

Northeast Coronavirus Coalition

Six states make up the Northeast Coalition: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The partnership allows the states to combine resources in an effort to obtain personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and other medical supplies. All coalitions states have announced schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year. A timeline for reopening has not yet been announced; however New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said there will be at least four phases for reopening businesses in New York, each lasting two weeks.

West Coast Coalition

Nevada and Colorado joined Washington, Oregon and California on the West Coast Coronavirus Coalition. Oregon’s state parks and recreation areas began reopening May 4, and the state has laid out guidelines for counties to allow additional reopenings. California’s early stage 2 of reopening commences on May 8. The state released public health guidelines for businesses including some retail, manufacturing, and logistics businesses to resume operations, while offices, dine-in restaurants and shopping malls will be reopened later in stage 2. Washington State this week extended the stay-at-home order to May 31.

Curbside pick-up at stores began in Colorado on April 27. Offices were allowed to reopen at 50% reduced capacity on May 3, when child care facilities also were cleared to reopen.


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