Several states starting to reopen this weekend
A handful of states in the U.S. are beginning to reopen some businesses starting this weekend as governors across the country grapple with when and how to ease restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Georgia’s stay-at-home order expires on April 30, but Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced this week that he would allow some businesses, including hair salons and gyms, to resume business starting Friday, which resulted in some backlash from local and national leaders.
“Certainly as mayor, my power does not supersede that of governor, but I do have the power of my voice,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) told MSNBC on Tuesday, one day after Kemp announced he would allow some businesses to reopen. “I am asking people to please stay home.”
Oklahoma, which has far fewer positive cases and deaths than Georgia, began opening hair and nail salons and other personal care businesses along with state parks on Friday. Oklahoma also allowed hospitals to resume elective surgeries Friday.
In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee (R ) said on Monday that “the vast majority of businesses” will be allowed to reopen when the state’s stay-at-home order expires on April 30, and as of Friday state parks and dine-in restaurants were allowed to open with reduced capacity. Tennessee was one of the last states to issue a stay-at-home order.
Tennessee’s largest cities such as Nashville and Memphis are drafting their own reopening plans.
“We want to have the majority of businesses open before May 1,” Lee said Friday. “Not every industry will be in a position open safely immediately.”
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) announced Friday that his stay-at-home order is expiring Sunday and that a “safer at home” order will go into effect on Monday.
In Texas, some stores were allowed to offer “retail to go” starting Friday. The businesses allowed to open must do so at reduced capacity, and residents are still required to wear face masks. The state’s stay-at-home order remains in effect until April 30, while state parks reopened earlier this week.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) said earlier in the week that after the state’s stay-at-home order expires on Sunday, the state will enter a “safer at home” phase during which residents will be recommended to stay home but not obligated to do so. The new restrictions allow small businesses and “personal services” such as hair salons to reopen Monday, though they’ll be under health restrictions and must follow certain guidelines not yet provided by the state.
Alaska’s stay-at-home order expired this week, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) allowed restaurants and other retail businesses to reopen Friday as long as they follow the health mandates issued by the state.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced a phased reopening starting Sunday, when churches will be allowed to reopen with social distancing measures in place. Restaurants serving customers at reduced capacity and schools will be allowed to reopen May 7.
Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Colorado, Mississippi and Alaska all have closed K-12 schools for the remainder of the academic year.
Public health experts have warned that reopening too soon could potentially result in a second wave of the virus just as the U.S. is beginning to see the pandemic’s horizon. However, economic pressure has forced government officials to make difficult decisions as over 26 million Americans have applied for their first round of unemployment insurance since March, and jobless claims have broken historic highs.