A timeline for returning to normal: When will each state reopen?

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In a bid to reopen the United States amidst economic fears, President Donald Trump unveiled the Guidelines for Opening Up America Again on Thursday, April 16. The roadmap is intended to provide governors with a gradual and phased approach to restoring normal activity in each state by reopening their economies, returning people back to work, and continuing to protect lives against the heath threats of COVID-19. According to President Trump, each governor will be responsible for deciding when it is safe to lift restrictions in their states.

Federal guidelines for reopening America

The three-phased approach is aimed at approaching each state affected by COVID-19 in a unique manner that will be most beneficial to that specific area based on number of cases and testing capabilities. Restrictions in areas with low transmission of COVID-19 may be quickly eased, while restrictions in harder-hit locations will gradually be lifted. Each state must satisfy the state and regional gating criteria before proceeding to the phased opening.

The gating criteria require:

  1. A downward trajectory of influenza-like and covid-like syndromic symptoms within a 14-day period.
  2. A downward trajectory of documented cases or of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period.
  3. That hospitals have the capability to treat all patients without crisis care and implement a robust testing program for at-risk healthcare workers.

The guidelines also include general recommendations for individuals and employers. Employers are encouraged to implement policies, such as temperature taking and disinfection of workplaces to keep employees safe as they plan to reopen their businesses.

Phase one encourages vulnerable individuals to continue to shelter in place and follow proper social distancing recommendations. Gatherings larger than ten people and non-essential travel should also be avoided. Employers are encouraged to continue current work-from-home procedures whenever possible and only return to work in phases while providing special accommodations for vulnerable employees.  

States should move forward to phase two when there is no evidence of a rebound and the gating criteria are satisfied for a second 14-day period. Phase two continues to encourage vulnerable individuals to remain home but lifts the restriction on non-essential travel and allows for social gatherings of no more than fifty people. If possible, employers should enforce social distancing at the work place, continue to encourage telework, and continue to provide special accommodations for vulnerable employees.  

Finally, if there has not been a rebound and the gating criteria are satisfied for a third 14-day period, states may implement phase three. Under phase three, low-risk individuals should consider minimizing time spent in crowded environments and employers may resume unrestricted staffing of worksites.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided updated guidelines on how to help get and keep America open on April 20. The CDC stressed that, to keep America open and functioning, states and localities must be able to quickly identify new cases, break the chain of transmission, and protect first responders and health care workers from infection. The guidance offers support and resources to states and local communities on various areas, including infection prevention, contact tracing, and community mitigation.

State plans to reopen

As of April 27, more than 97% of the U.S. population is under a stay-at-home order or shelter-in-place order in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19. However, as concerns regarding the economy continue to grow, many state governors have started to implement plans to reopen and lift restrictions on their residents. States have been encouraged to implement President Trump’s guidelines for reopening alongside their own state-specific approach. Many state leaders stress that reopening the economy and their respective states hinges on the availability of widespread testing, better tracking of individuals infected, and improved treatment options. The following list provides insight on where each state stands in the push to reopen and useful links to applicable resources:

  • Alabama – Governor Kay Ivey stated that Alabama’s stay-at-home order would not be extended past April 30. Instead, Governor Ivey issued a safer-at-home order that went into effect on April 30 and expires on May 15.  The new order allows all employers, retail stores and beaches to open subject to good sanitation and social distancing rules.
  • Alaska – The stay-at-home order issued by Governor Mike Dunleavy expired April 21. Governor Dunleavy announced on April 15 that individuals could begin to schedule elective surgeries for on or after May 4 and visit doctors for non-urgent needs. Governor Dunleavy allowed personal services businesses and restaurants to reopen April 24 but with certain social distancing restrictions. Hair salons may only admit customers by reservation and restaurants may not exceed 25% of their normal capacity.
  • Arizona – During a news conference on April 29, Governor Doug Ducey announced that the state’s stay-at-home order would be extended to May 15. The new executive order permits retailers to reopen on May 4 only through delivery service and other means that do not entail in-store sales. On May 8, non-essential retailers can sell items to customer in-store. Governor Ducey hopes to reopen restaurants May 12. No county, city or town may issue orders or regulations that conflict with the new executive order.
  • Arkansas – Governor Asa Hutchinson never issued a stay-at-home order for Arkansas residents. However, on April 18, Governor Hutchinson announced the creation of a new economic recovery task force with a goal to begin easing restrictions on May 4. According to the executive order, the task force shall develop a strategy for the economic recovery effort and examine the impact and recovery needs across the spectrum of businesses and industries in the state. Governor Hutchinson announced that gyms, fitness centers, and indoor athletic facilities may reopen May 4 but individuals who have been to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Orleans may not enter those places. Additionally, restaurants may reopen for limited dine-in services starting May 11 so long as they operate at a third of their normal capacity and limit groups to no more than 10 people.
  • California – The California stay-at-home order, issued March 19, has no set end date. Governor Gavin Newsom joined a multistate task force, along with Oregon and Washington, to plan for the eventual reopening. Governor Newsom outlined a framework to reopen the California economy which heavily relies on expanded testing and the ability to meet future surges in hospitals but did not provide a date on when reopening could occur. On April 17, Governor Newsom announced the creation of the Business and Jobs Recovery Task Force that will be responsible for developing recommendations for a plan that works for all Californians, with a focus on the regions and communities hardest hit.
  • Colorado – The stay-at-home order, which expired April 27, was replaced by a safer at home phase. The new phase urges residents to remain home as much as possible. On April 27, retail businesses with curbside delivery were permitted to reopen and elective medical procedures were allowed to resume. Other businesses including personal training and dog grooming also reopened with social distancing. Non-essential office work resumed May 4 and it is expected that more retail will reopen later this week.
  • Connecticut – Governor Ned Lamont extended the mandatory stay-at-home order for all Connecticut residents until May 20. The governor stated that more testing is needed before the state can reopen. Additionally, the state joined a coalition with New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts to coordinate reopening efforts. On April 13, Governor Lamont announced the creation of the Reopening Connecticut Advisory Group which will examine issues concerning how best to allow commerce to begin. On April 30, Governor Lamont announced the industries expected to reopen on May 20, including outdoor-only restaurants, remaining retail deemed non-essential, offices, personal services, outdoor museums and zoos, outdoor recreation issues, and university research programs.
  • Delaware – The current stay-at-home order remains in effect until May 15 or until the public health threat is eliminated. Governor John Carney said the state will consider reopening only after seeing 28 days of declining COVID-19 cases. The governor said that even if the state reopens, social distancing, face coverings, washing hands and limited gatherings prohibitions will remain in place. Delaware has joined the same coalition with Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
  • District of Columbia – Mayor Muriel Bower extended the stay-at-home order until May 15. No specific procedures or guidelines have been provided indicating when businesses may be able to reopen.
  • Florida – Governor Ron DeSantis’ stay-at-home order expired April 30. As of May 4, restaurants may offer outdoor seating and indoor seating at 25% capacity. Other retail businesses may reopen at 25% of indoor capacity. Bars, gyms and other personal services remain closed.
  • Georgia – Governor Brian Kemp started to ease restrictions and business closures April 24.  Gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, hair and nail salons, and massage therapists were permitted to open April 24. Other businesses including theaters and restaurants were allowed to open April 27. According to the Governor, the openings are statewide and cannot be restricted by local ordinances.
  • Hawaii – The stay-at-home order slated to expire on April 30 was extended until May 31 by Governor David Ige. Governor Ige stated that Hawaii does not currently meet the guidelines issued by President Trump for reopening. Certain activities including jogging and walking are permitted on beaches but people must maintain social distance. Additionally, elective surgeries may resume so long as there is enough capacity in hospitals.
  • Idaho – Governor Brad Little’s extended stay-at-home order expired May 1. Under stage one of the state’s reopening plan, non-essential businesses were permitted to reopen on May 1, so long as they prepare operational plans to maintain social distancing, provide protective coverings for employees, offer curbside delivery, limit the number of people in the business at one time, and direct the flow of people. It is expected that restaurant dining and sales will be permitted to open under stage two.
  • Illinois – On May 1, Governor J.B. Pritzker extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 30 with additional flexibility for residents to leave their homes as long as gatherings are less than 10 people. State parks, golf courses, retail stores and garden centers are beginning to reopen with strict social distancing guidelines. Governor Pritzker announced that all adults and children over the age of two are required to wear face masks in public places where they cannot maintain a 6-foot social distance. Illinois is coordinating reopening efforts with Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
  • Indiana – After Governor Eric Holcomb’s stay at home order expired on May 1, the state entered into stage one of its reopening plans. Currently, all critical businesses have reopened but all other industries are closed. Stage two began May 4 and allows essential travel, social gatherings of up to 25, and the reopening of government offices. Retail operations may resume operations at 50% capacity and, starting May 11, restaurants and bars may reopen at 50% capacity.
  • Iowa – On May 1, Governor Reynolds permitted 77 out of the state’s 99 counties to reopen restaurants, fitness centers, retail stores and enclosed malls at 50% capacity. In counties with higher COVID-19 activity, non-essential business closures are in effect until May 15.
  • Kansas – Governor Laura Kelly’s extended stay-at-home order expires May 4. Upon expiration, localities may allow businesses to reopen as long as they maintain at least six feet of distance between consumers and adhere to industry-specific guidelines. Bars, nightclubs, casinos, gyms, personal service businesses, and businesses where close contact cannot be avoided must remain closed.
  • Kentucky – The state’s healthy at home order is in effect indefinitely. On May 11, manufacturing, construction, vehicle dealerships, professional services functioning at 50% capacity, horse racing without fans, and dog grooming and boarding may reopen. On May 20, retail and houses of worship may reopen. Other businesses including barber shops and salons may reopen May 25. It is expected that restaurants, move theaters, and day cares will begin reopening in June.
  • Louisiana – The Louisiana stay-at-home order was extended to May 15 with certain eased restrictions. Under the extended order, stores may offer curbside delivery, restaurants may permit patrons to eat outside, and churches may operate outdoors. Governor John Bel Edwards and state legislative leaders established the Advisory Task Force on Economic Recovery to develop comprehensive policy, legislative, and regulatory recommendations to re-start the Louisiana economy.
  • Maine – Governor Janet Mills’ stay healthy at home order was extended until May 31. The extended order allows certain businesses to reopen including barber shops and car dealerships but they must maintain strict health protocols. Maine is working with its neighboring states of New Hampshire and Vermont to create procedures for reopening the area.
  • Maryland – Governor Larry Hogan’s statewide stay-at-home order does not provide a set end date. However, in an official statement, the Governor announced that Maryland is in a position to plan the gradual rollout of the state’s recovery phase. During the recovery phase the state will focus on expanded testing capacity, increased hospital surge capacity, increased supply of PPE, and building a contact tracing operation.
  • Massachusetts – The emergency order issued by Governor Charlie requiring all non-essential businesses to cease operations was extended until May 18. Massachusetts has joined a coalition with multiple other Northeastern states including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Rhode Island to coordinate reopening efforts. Although Governor Baker has initiated conversations with other state officials there is no current timeline for when reopening may occur.
  • Michigan – Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s extended stay-at-home order is slated to expire May 15. The current order allows landscapers, lawn-service companies, plant nurseries and bike repair shops to reopen. Additionally, residents are permitted to travel between residences, use motorized boats, and play golf. The state will consider sustained reduction in cases, expanded testing, sufficient healthcare capacity, and best practices for the workplaces before implementing any procedures. Michigan is coordinating reopening efforts with Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
  • Minnesota – Governor Tim Walz extended the state’s stay-home-order through May 18. Approximately 20,000 industrial, manufacturing, and office setting jobs were allowed to go back to work April 27. In addition, retail businesses started offering curbside pickup and delivery on May 4. Minnesota is closely working with surrounding states, including Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Wisconsin to determine reopening guidelines.
  • Mississippi – Governor Tate Reeves’ safer-at-home executive order expires May 11. On April 17, the governor eased restrictions on certain businesses, such as clothing stores and florists, which are now allowed to do curbside pickup and delivery.
  • Missouri – Governor Mike Parson’s stay-at-home order expired May 3. As of May 4, individuals were permitted to gather with no limit on the number of people, as long as six feet of distance can be maintained. In addition, all businesses could reopen with social distancing guidelines. Local communities may elect to implement stricter rules.
  • Montana – Governor Steve Bullock announced a phased reopening of the state starting April 26. Main street and retail businesses reopened April 27 with limited capacity and social distancing. Restaurants, bars, breweries and distilleries were permitted to provide in-establishment services as of May 4.
  • Nebraska – Governor Pete Ricketts did not issue a stay-at-home order but did provide the “21 Days to Stay Home and Stay Healthy” campaign, which focuses on staying home, social distancing at work, shopping alone, and assisting seniors. Restaurants are permitted to serve up to 50% capacity, salons and tattoo parlors are allowed to assist up to ten people at a time, and houses of worship may meet in-person with six feet of separation.
  • Nevada – Governor Steve Sisolak extended the current stay-at-home order until mid-May. However, as of May 1, expanded outdoor and recreational activities, retail stores with curbside pickup, and retail cannabis dispensaries may reopen.
  • New Hampshire – Governor Chris Sununu extended the state’s stay at home order until May 31. On May 11, barbers and salons may reopen as long as there are no more than ten people in the salon including staff and retail shops may open at 50% occupancy. Restaurants will be permitted to resume operations May 18 but only with outdoor seating.
  • New Jersey – Governor Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order does not contain any specified end date. New Jersey has joined other Northeastern states, including New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, to coordinate reopening efforts. Governor Murphy stated that only “a coordinated, regional approach, informed by a multi-state council of experts, will help us avoid a major setback with potentially disastrous consequences.”
  • New Mexico – New Mexico’s stay-at-home order was extended to May 15. In response to President Trump’s reopening guidelines, Governor Michelle Lujan Chrisham stated that the guidelines would be taken into consideration but that “we cannot put the cart before the horse.” On April 30, certain businesses including non-essential retail stores offering curbside pickup, veterinarians, groomers, boarding businesses, and golf courses were allowed to reopen.  
  • New York – Governor Andrew Cuomo’s stay-at-home order is not slated to expire until May 15. Governor Cuomo has been working closely with Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Rhode Island to reopen the economy. In a press release, the Governor stated that the “framework [will be] based on science and data to gradually ease the stay at home restrictions and get [the] economy back up and running.”
  • North Carolina – Governor Roy Cooper extended North Carolina’s stay-at-home order through May 8. On April 23, Governor Cooper introduced a three phase reopening plan that would take effect May 8. In phase 1, stay-at-home orders will remain in place but some businesses will be allowed to open. Phase 2 lifts stay-at-home orders and allows places of worship, bars, and restaurants to reopen with reduced capacities. Finally, phase 3 allows increased capacities at businesses and public gatherings.
  • North Dakota – Although no stay-at-home order was issued in North Dakota, all non-essential businesses were closed through April 30. Governor Doug Burgum signed an executive order May 1 allowing bars, restaurants, recreational facilities, health clubs, salons, and tattoo studios to reopen with social distancing. Movie theaters may reopen at 20% of normal capacity.  
  • Ohio – The Department of Health extended Ohio’s stay at home order until May 19. On May 1 certain health procedures, including dentist visits, were allowed to resume. On May 4, manufacturing, distribution, and construction companies reopened. General offices may also reopen but should encourage employees to work from home when possible. On May 12, consumer, retail and other services will also be permitted to resume operations. Ohio is working with Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, and Kentucky to reopen in a coordinated manner.
  • Oklahoma – Oklahoma does not have a stay-at-home order. Instead, Governor Kevin Stitt issued a safer at home order for adults over the age of 65. On April 24 some businesses were allowed to reopen, including personal care businesses. Restaurants, dining rooms, movie theaters, sporting venues and gyms were permitted to reopen May 1.
  • Oregon – The current stay-at-home order remains in effect until terminated by Governor Kate Brown. Oregon has entered into a coalition with other Western states including California and Washington. However, Governor Brown has stated that she will not lift restrictions until there is a declining rate of active cases, sufficient PPE, increased surge capacity, increased testing capacity, contact tracing, and strategies to protect vulnerable communities.
  • Pennsylvania – Governor Tim Wolf’s stay-at-home order expires May 8. On May 8, the state will reopen in three phases broken down into three colors, red, yellow, and green. Pennsylvania has joined a coalition with New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts to coordinate reopening efforts.
  • Rhode Island – Governor Gina Raimondo extended the state’s stay-at-home order until May 8. Rhode Island joined the Northeaster states coalition with New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, but no plans for reopening have been announced.
  • South Carolina – On April 20, certain retail stores, including those selling furniture, books, and music, were allowed to reopen, as well as department stores, sporting goods stores, and flea markets. The stores are allowed to open at 20% capacity, or 5 people per 1,000 square feet. Public beaches reopened April 21 at noon but local governments are allowed to keep them closed. The state’s work at home order, originally set to expire May 12, was lifted and returned to voluntary status on May 4.
  • South Dakota – South Dakota has not issued a stay-at-home order, and there are no plans to address easing social distancing restrictions.
  • Tennessee – Governor Lee announced that starting April 27, restaurants would be allowed to reopen and retail outlets could reopen at 50% capacity on April 29. In addition, salons and barber shop will be allowed to reopen May 6 in 89 out of the state’s 95 counties.
  • Texas – Governor Abbot’s stay-at-home order expired May 1. Retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums, and libraries were permitted to reopen on May 1 with capacity limited to 25% of their listed occupancy.
  • Utah – Under the Utah Leads Together plan, which provides health and mitigation guidelines to employers and individuals, restaurants, gyms, and personal service businesses were permitted to reopen May 1.
  • Vermont – Vermont’s stay-at-home order expires May 15. Governor Phil Scott announced on April 17 that certain low contact businesses, such as appraisers, realtors and attorneys, would be allowed to operate April 20. The businesses are limited to a maximum of two workers. Manufacturing, construction and distribution businesses were permitted to reopen with 10 or less employees on May 4 and return to full operations on May 11.
  • Virginia – Governor Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order requires all individuals to remain home until June 10. Governor Northam stated that phase one of the Forward Virginia recovery plan would not be implemented until there is a 14-day downward trend in confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
  • Washington – Washington’s stay-at-home order was extended until May 31. Most state parks, recreational areas, and golf courses reopened May 5.
  • West Virginia – Governor Jim Justice’s stay at home order was replaced with a new order Monday, May 4. The new order encourages residents to remain home but no longer requires them to do so. The state plans to reopen local businesses on May 7 with social distancing and face covering requirements.
  • Wisconsin – Wisconsin’s stay-at-home order does not expire until May 26, but Governor Tony Evers has already provided a roadmap for reopening the state’s economy. Aptly named the Badger Bounce Back program, Governor Evers’ plan is broken into three phases. Phase one allows gatherings of up to ten people, restaurants to open with social distancing, and the removal of certain retail restrictions. Phase two allows gatherings of up to 50 people, restaurants to resume full operation, and bars and non-essential businesses to resume operations with social distancing requirements. The final phase allows all business activity and gatherings to resume with minimal protective measures. At this time, dog groomers, upholstery stores, outdoor recreational rentals, and self service car washes are permitted to reopen with curbside drop-off.
  • Wyoming – Governor Mark Gordon did not issue a stay at home order. Gyms and personal services businesses were permitted to reopen on May 1 under social distancing restrictions.

McDonald Hopkins has a team of professionals dedicated to assisting businesses experiencing financial distress as a result of the coronavirus. Click here for a list of articles focused on providing legal and business solutions to the impact of the coronavirus on your business.

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