While most states are slowly reopening parts of their economies, and adjusting to the ‘new normal’, there are still a handful of states and territories that have chosen to remain closed. In this piece we take a look at the states that are delaying opening, including their reasons for doing so, the measures they are taking to improve their economies, and their plans for reopening.
Illinois, the only state in the Midwest delaying reopening, won’t be staying closed for much longer. On May 20 Governor Pritzker announced that conditions had been met to move on to Phase 3 of re-opening. Phase 3, which is projected to start on May 29, includes outdoor seating for restaurants and cafes. The governor encouraged cities and counties to assist businesses in expanding outdoor seating space for businesses, as tables are required to be 6 feet apart and away from the sidewalk. Beyond outdoor seating at hospitality venues, Phase 3 will allow non-essential businesses, including barbers and tattoo shops, to reopen so long as capacity limits of 10 people and other distancing measures are followed.
In late April, when Governor Pritzker announced the extension of the stay-at-home order, the main reasoning was that lifting the order would result in a second wave of “COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.” Since then, the Illinois government has implemented a five-phase plan to protect lives and livelihoods for Illinois residents, including the metrics that have to be met for moving on to the next phase of reopening.
On May 18 New Jersey Governor Murphy outlined the state’s multi-phased plan for recovery. While no timeline for progressing to future stages was included, New Jersey is moving to Phase 1 this week. Phase 1 allows residents to resume low-risk outdoor activities, such as visiting parks and beaches but still encourages them to stay at home as much as possible. New Jersey’s recovery plan is based on six principles:
- Demonstrate sustained reductions in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations
- Expand testing capacity
- Implement robust contact tracing
- Secure safe places and resources for isolation and quarantine
- Execute a responsible economic restart
- Ensure New Jersey’s resilience
Included in the 5th principle “Execute a responsible economic restart”, is the creation of a ‘back to work’ plan based on responsible and equitable decisions. New Jersey’s recovery plan projects that a return to ‘normal’ with full business activity will not be the case until a proven vaccine is widely available.
In Delaware, Governor Carney has set June 1 as the target date to transition into phase one of recovery. In Delaware’s very detailed reopening guide, phase one is outlined to include restaurants, malls, gyms, and salons at 30% capacity. Those working in offices are encouraged to keep working remotely, while common areas should be closed for businesses that are returning to the office.
When announcing June 1 as the projected date for the start of phase one, Governor Carney strongly asserted the science behind his plan, stating that “our response to COVID-19 has been driven by the science since Day 1 and will continue to be driven by the science.” The Delaware government has yet to release any guidelines on further stages in the recovery process.
The few states that are opening more slowly have all based their decision on science-backed recovery plans, and are keeping track by strict metrics. By following these metrics and implementing far-going safety measures, they are hoping to not only continue the flattening of COVID-19 cases, but also avoid further spikes in their states.