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Reopening the Economy Under COVID-19: States Plot a Way Back

Governing is building a 50-state map to visualize the changes underway to declare states “Open for Business” even as the coronavirus remains at large across the country.

Governing is keeping a running tally of coronavirus news and impacts at the intersection of the health and economic crises in the states and localities. Here is what you need to know.

The New York Stock Exchange and meatpacking plants reopen and Memorial Day celebrations that didn't follow social distancing guidelines. Read more below. 

Every state is now entirely or partially opened. Certain measures are consistent state to state, but not all of them are currently experiencing downward trends in new cases. Details here on state announcements: 

(April 28) Alabama(April 22) Alaska(May 1) Arizona(May 1) Arkansas(May 7) California, (April 26) Colorado(May 9) Connecticut(May 5) Delaware(April 29) Florida, (April 20) Georgia (May 5) Hawaii, (April 30)Idaho, (April 24) Illinois(May 1) Indiana, (April 27) Iowa,  (April 30) Kansas (May 4) Kentucky, (April 30) Louisiana, (April 29) Maine, (May 13) Maryland(May 18) Massachusetts(April 24) Michigan(April 23) Minnesota(April 24) Mississippi(April 27) Missouri, (April 24) Montana, (April 24) Nebraska(May 7) Nevada(May 1) New Hampshire(May 13) New Jersey, (April 30) New Mexico(May 11) New York, (May 5) North Carolina, (April 29) North Dakota, (May 7) Ohio(April 24) Oklahoma(May 7) Oregon, (May 4) Pennsylvania, (May 5) Rhode Island(April 20) South Carolina(April 28) South Dakota, (April 20) Tennessee, (April 27) Texas (April 29) Utah(April 24) Vermont(May 8) Virginia, (May 4) Washington (April 30) West Virginia, (April 27) Wisconsin, (April 28) Wyoming.

Window on Reopening: A 50-State View

What states have done and when they did it, in summary form. 


Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced on April 28 that a phased re-opening of the state economy would begin at 5 pm on April 30 under a revised Safer at Home Order issued by the state’s Health Officer.

Citizens are encouraged to wear face masks around persons from other households. Those who have tested positive for the virus are ordered to quarantine for two weeks. Non-work gatherings of ten persons or more are prohibited, as are gatherings of any size where social distancing cannot be maintained. “Drive-in” gatherings of any size are permitted according to certain guidelines, resolving uncertainty about events such as stay-in-your-car church services.

Retail stores will be allowed to reopen, providing they limit occupancy to 50 percent of the load determined by the fire marshal, monitor social distancing and follow sanitation guidelines from the CDC and the state. Masks are not mentioned.

Entertainment venues including night clubs, bowling alleys, theatres, museums and casinos will remain closed, as will athletic facilities, barber shops, nail salons and other personal care businesses. Restriction of restaurant operations to take-out or delivery services remains in place.

Medical, surgical and dental procedures will be allowed, under rules developed by the Alabama Department of Public Health. The order will remain in effect until May 15.

Here’s a look at recent trends for  new cases in the state


On April 22, Gov. Mike Dunleavy of Alaska announced Phase I of the Reopen Alaska Responsibly plan. Under the April 24 guidance, individuals are no longer required to stay at home. They are asked to maintain social distancing and to wear cloth face coverings at gatherings that involve multiple households.

As of April 24, restaurants and retails businesses were allowed to open at 25 percent capacity. Reservations are required and groups seated together are limited to family members. Businesses providing personal services are required to operate at a 1:1 staff to customer ratio, with no waiting rooms. Universal face coverings are required in these settings.

Indoor and outdoor religious, social or other gatherings are limited to 20 people, with face covering suggested. Outdoor gym classes are allowed with groups no larger than 20. Child-care and day-camp operations are allowed to reopen, subject to detailed guidelines.


On May 1, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced the easing of restrictions of businesses in his state, with changes beginning on May 4 and continuing on May 8. These measures are outlined in the state’s “Return Stronger” plan and referenced in an Executive Order

Customers are advised to cover their nose and mouth with a face covering and to practice social distancing. In keeping with CDC guidance, they are asked to use touchless payment if possible, and to sanitize carts if possible.

Elective and outpatient surgeries can resume on May 1. As of May 4, retail businesses not classified as “essential” are allowed to offer goods through means such as delivery, curbside service, window service, etc. As of May 8, they will be allowed to open their stores if they maintain social distancing and sanitation standards from the U.S. Department of Labor or the Arizona Department of Health Services. Guidelines are being developed that would make it possible for restaurants to resume dine-in service in May.

As of May 3, new cases in Arizona had been trending upward for several weeks.


Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson did not issue a stay-at-home order. An Executive Order on March 26 prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people in confined indoor or outdoor spaces. It did not apply to businesses or places of worship or to outdoor, unenclosed spaces in which social distancing could be accomplished.

An Executive Order on April 4 did not order businesses to close, but did require them to limit occupancy to a level at which social distancing could be achieved, mark six-foot increments in waiting lines, provide contactless payment, place informational signs at their entrances, and other measures. Gyms, personal care businesses and casinos were to remain closed.

On May 1, he announced that personal care businesses in the state could resume operations on May 6 under guidelines that include:

  • Providing services by appointment only
  • Screening both clients and employees
  • Limiting occupancy to 10 persons, or 30 percent of capacity for facilities large enough to allow
  • Face coverings for employees and clients when possible
In a radio address on the same day, he announced that gyms could reopen on May 4, limited dine-in service could resume in restaurants on May 11 and that services at state parks would be available starting May 15.

As of May 3, new cases in the state were trending sharply downward.


On May 7, Gov. Gavin Newsom released guidelines for businesses in California that would allow some to reopen as the state moves into Stage 2 of its Resilience Roadmap on May 8. 

The current stay at home order remains in effect. However, retail businesses such as clothing stores, sporting goods stores, florists, bookstores and music stores will be allowed to reopen for curbside pickup. Manufacturers and suppliers in the supply chain that serves such non-essential business can also reopen.

Shopping malls and in-house dining at restaurants are to remain closed, as well as businesses and entertainment venues. According to the plan, these will open later in Stage 2, as will schools, child-care facilities, museums and office-based businesses. 

Workplaces designated as “higher-risk” will have to wait for Stage 3. These include nail and tattoo salons, gyms, bars, entertainment venues, indoor museums, public pools and playgrounds, religious services, theme parks and hotel services for leisure and tourism.

Leaders in the Bay Area, where cases are still on the rise, have said they may move at a slower pace than allowed by the Phase 1 guidelines. Counties that want to move ahead of the restrictions set at the state level may do so, provided they submit a containment plan and can meet certain criteria, including:

  • No more than one COVID-19 case per 10,000 residents, or one death during the past two weeks
  • At least 1.5 tests per 1,000 residents and 15 contact tracers per 100,000 residents
  • Able to house at least 15 percent of their homeless population
As of May 6, new cases in California were on a comparatively flat trend, in the range of the high points in previous weeks.


On April 26, Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced an Executive Order modifying the state’s Safer at Home guidelines and providing series of phases for reopening his state.

  • Beginning Monday, April 27, non-critical businesses will be allowed to provide delivery service, window service, curbside service, etc.
  • Voluntary or elective medical, dental, and veterinary surgeries and procedures may resume if facilities are following required safety protocols. 
  • On May 1, retail and personal service businesses can open if they follow social distancing requirements and cleaning protocols.
  • On May 4, offices will be allowed to open with a 50 percent reduction in staffing. To support this, childcare facilities will be allowed to reopen or expand.
Local governments are allowed to establish guidelines that go beyond those in the Executive Order. They are also allowed to implement or guidelines that are less restrictive, provided they provide proof that infection has declined for 14 consecutive days in their county and submit a written COVID-19 suppression plan “approved by the appropriate local public health authority, all hospitals within the jurisdiction, and elected leadership.”

On April 26, he also announced the creation of  “New Normal Advisory Board.” New cases do not appear to be on a downward trajectory in the state.


On May 9, Gov. Ned Lamont announced the release of documents providing guidelines for the reopening of certain businesses on May 20 under phase 1 of the state’s Reopen Connecticut plan. The governor, his office, legislators, medical experts and representatives from business and industry contributed to development of sector-specific protocols.

The businesses included in this first phase include retail stores, hair salons and barbershops, outdoor museums and zoos, offices and restaurants. Daily health checks, adherence to state guidelines for testing and contact tracing, cleaning, capacity tracking and other practices apply to all businesses. Employers are responsible for providing PPE to their employees and cannot open if they are unable to do this.

Guidelines for sectors include:

  • Hair salons must include 6 feet of space between workstations, eliminating shared amenities such as magazines and water dispensers, face shields and a mask or face covering for employees and face coverings for customers.
  • Restaurants are to provide outdoor dining only, with distancing between tables. Employees are required to wear a mask or face covering. Table servers are to wear gloves. Customers are to bring and wear masks.
  • Retail stores and malls can reopen at 50 percent capacity. Physical barriers are required at checkout. Fitting rooms are to be closed. Employees and customers must wear masks or cloth face coverings. Food service inside malls is take-out only, and seating areas are to be closed. Valet service is not allowed.
  • While working from home is still encouraged, offices can also open at 50 percent capacity. Workers are to be trained on cleaning and social distancing guidelines. Shifts should be staggered, and visitors limited. Masks are required, but may be removed if employees are working alone in a segregated space.
  • Outdoor museums and zoos can open, but interactive or outdoor exhibits and gift shops are to remain closed. Guided tours are not allowed, and dedicated attendants are to enforce occupancy guidelines for each space. Visitors are to bring and wear masks or face coverings.

As of May 11, cases in the state were trending downward.


Delaware Gov. John Carney announced guidelines that would allow small businesses in his state to resume limited operations on May 8. 

In a March 25 modification of an earlier State of Emergency Declaration, he required all businesses to provide face coverings to employees who work in areas open to the general public, or in areas where they are likely to come within 6 feet of co-workers. He also directed business owners to refuse entry to customers who refuse to wear a face covering, unless there is a medical reason why this is not possible.

As of May 8, small businesses retailers will be allowed to provide curbside pickup to customers. The businesses affected include department stores, clothing and shoe stores, sporting goods stores and other general merchandise stores. Jewelry stores can open on an appointment-only basis.

Personal care businesses are only permitted to offer hair care services, and only to workers at essential businesses. Each location may service only two persons at a time, and both employees and customers must wear face masks. Other guidelines include locking the entrance door to prevent walk-in customers.

As of May 4, new cases in Delaware had been trending slightly upward over the previous two weeks.


In a news conference on April 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the first phase of his "Safe. Smart. Step by Step." plan to reopen the Florida economy would begin to be implemented on Monday, May 4. An Executive Order was published that day with details.

The new guidelines include:

  • Groups larger than 10 are not permitted to gather in spaces that do not allow for social distancing. Face masks are recommended.
  • Citizens are asked to isolate for 14 days following travel on a cruise, to an international destination or to an area with significant COVID-19 presence.
  • Bars and nightclubs that derive more than 50 percent of their income from selling alcoholic beverages are to suspend the sale of them for on-premises consumption.
  • Restaurants are allowed to serve food to customers provided they operate at 25 percent capacity, keep bar seating closed and limit seating per table to 10 or less. Outdoor seating is allowed if tables are a minimum of six feet apart.
  • In-store retail businesses, museums and libraries are permitted to operate at a 25 percent occupancy limit.
  • Gyms and fitness centers remain closed.
  • The counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach will remain under a stay-at-home order. 
  • Personal service businesses will remain closed.
  • Schools and gyms remain closed.
  • Violation of the Executive Order is designated as a second-class misdemeanor, punishable by a fine or imprisonment, or both.

Georgia was the first state to reverse its shelter-in-place order. Gov. Brian Kemp announced on April 20 that he would allow “gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians, their respective schools, and massage therapists” to reopen on Friday, April 24. Theatres, restaurants and private social clubs would be allowed to reopen on April 27, while bars, amusement parks and live performance venues would remain closed. His announcement included a reminder that the state’s shelter-at-home order would remain in effect until April 30.

“The entities that I am reopening are not reopening for 'business as usual,'” he said. The businesses would be subject to minimum basic operations restrictions, including social distancing, sanitation, screening workers and “masks and gloves if appropriate.” The governor’s plans have been criticized by the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci and mayors in the state. The concerns raised by mayors are exacerbated by the governor’s assertion that local standards cannot be implemented that are more restrictive than the ones established at the state level.

The state has not met the benchmark of two weeks of downward trajectory of new cases.

Moreover, the state’s action came amid mixed messages from President Donald Trump. On the eve of the official reopening in Georgia, Trump heaped both praise and blame on the governor.

"I told the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, that I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities which are in violation of the phase one guidelines for the incredible people of Georgia. They're incredible people. I love those people. They are -- they're great. They've been strong, resolute. But, at the same time, he must do what he thinks is right. I want him to do what he thinks is right, but I disagree with him on what he's doing. But I want to let the governors do -- now, if I see something totally egregious, totally out of line, I'll do. But I think spas and beauty salons and tattoo parlors and barbershops in phase one -- we're going to have phase two very soon -- is just too soon. I think it's too soon. "And I love the people. I love -- I love those people that use all of those things: the spas and the beauty parlors and barbershops, tattoo parlors. I love them. But they can wait a little bit longer. Just a little bit. Not -- not much. Because safety has to predominate. We have to have that. So I told the governor, very simply, that I disagree with his decision, but he has to do what he thinks is right."

On May 5, Gov. David Ige signed a Supplementary Emergency Proclamation that would allow some businesses in the state to reopen at 12:01 am on May 7. The announcement of the proclamation noted that the exact restrictions for these businesses could vary by county.

Businesses allowed to reopen include car dealerships, car washes, licensed child-care facilities, pet grooming services, retail and repair services (apparel, florists, watch and surfboard repair) and non-food agriculture.

Occupancy is to be limited to a number that will allow social distancing. All customers are to wear face covering, as are employees who have contact with customers. Violations of the guidelines in the proclamation are subject to misdemeanor criminal penalties.

Other provisions in the proclamation include:

  • Beaches remain closed. 
  • Hiking is allowed on state trails for groups of no more than two persons, or larger groups if members live at the same address. Hikers are to maintain a distance of 20 feet from one another. 
  • Citizens are encouraged to wear face coverings, and gatherings of more than 10 are prohibited. 
  • All persons who enter the state are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

As of May 5, new cases in the state had been trending significantly downward for several weeks.


Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued a Stay Healthy Order on April 30 that became effective May 1. Businesses in the state are allowed to open if they follow social distancing and sanitation guidelines outlined in the order.

Some businesses are required to remain closed other than to perform “minimum basic operations” that do not include interacting with customers. The businesses in this category include:

  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Dining rooms in restaurants (takeout and delivery are allowed)
  • Indoor gyms
  • Hair and nail salons, massage parlors, etc.
  • Large venues such as movie theaters, concert and sporting venues
The order states that large public gatherings should be avoided (no number is specified). Persons entering the state are required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 are not allowed to enter the state unless under orders for medical care.

Citizens are to practice social distancing and are “strongly encouraged” to use face coverings. Employers are ordered to follow guidelines for ensuring employee safety screening for illness and maintaining social distancing. Violation of mandatory provisions in the order may constitute a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment or both.

As of May 2, cases in the state were on a long-term downtrend.


News outlets report that Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s latest extension of the state’s stay-at-home order includes changes that will affect some businesses in the state. They will go into effect on Friday, May 1.

Masks have not been previously required, but beginning on May 1, all individuals over age 2 must wear one in a public place where six feet of separation cannot be maintained. Other changes include:

  • Certain businesses are redesignated as “essential” and allowed to reopen, but must maintain social distancing and require customers and employees to wear face masks. These include nurseries and garden centers and pet groomers. 
  • Non-essential retail businesses may reopen to take phone and Internet orders and provide out-of-store pickup and delivery services.
  • Essential businesses and manufacturing facilities must provide face masks to workers who are unable to maintain six feet of social distancing, along with other new requirements including staggering shifts and “operating only essential lines.”
  • Elective surgeries can resume.
  • Parks will begin a phased reopening. Golf will be allowed under prescribed guidelines. Fishing and boating are allowed for groups of no more than two persons.
As of April 29, new cases in Illinois had been trending steadily upward since the outbreak began.


On May 1, Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb today announced this Back On Track Indiana plan. Under an Executive Order issued on the same day, business in the state, with the exception of those in Cass, Lake and Marion counties, will be allowed to reopen on May 4, according to guidelines in Phase 2 of this plan. Local governments may impose guidelines that are more strict if they feel they are needed.

Citizens continue to be urged to remain at home as much as possible, to maintain social distancing and are “strongly encouraged” to wear face coverings. Gatherings of up to 25 persons are permitted. “Essential travel” restrictions are lifted.

All businesses are to implement measures including screening, enhanced cleaning and CDC social distancing requirements.

Guidelines for reopening include:

  • Retail businesses are to limit customers to 50 percent capacity. Employees must wear face coverings and it is left to business owners to decide whether customers will be required to wear them.
  • Malls are to limit common areas around retail stores to 25 percent of capacity.
  • Citizens are encouraged to postpone any in-person purchases of goods or services “unless and until such items are needed for sustenance, health, education, or employment.”
  • Restaurants will be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity one week after their county has been designated as being in Stage 2 (May 11 for most counties).
  • Personal service businesses will be allowed to reopen May 11 by appointment only, under the same conditions as restaurants.
  • Manufacturers that had not been considered essential are allowed to reopen
  • Indoor religious services may resume after May 8 and are not subject to limits on the number of who may gather.
  • Gyms and fitness centers remain closed.
  • Hotels and motels may reopen.
  • Health-care and public health operations are allowed.
The Executive Order also calls for the creation of an Enforcement Response Team and asks state agency heads to make law enforcement officers available to assist in enforcement. Knowing violation of the order is classified as a Class B misdemeanor, subject to incarceration and fine.

As of May 2, new cases in Indiana were on a continuous uptrend.


On April 27, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation effective on May 1 that loosens social distancing and sets the stage for businesses in the state to reopen. The proclamation is far-ranging, touching on matters including foreclosures, debt collection and evictions.

Gatherings of more than 10 persons are prohibited. This limit does not apply to religious services, though weddings and funerals with more than 10 persons are prohibited.

The guidelines regarding the reopening of businesses include:

  • Retail stores may open at 50 percent capacity, though not in every county in the state.
  • Malls may reopen at 50 percent occupancy, with common seating and play areas closed.
  • Restaurants are allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity, with a limit of six persons seated together. Self-service of food or beverages is not allowed. Bars remain closed, other than to provide takeout or delivery food service.
  • Gyms and fitness centers may reopen at 50 percent capacity, with social distancing in place and group classes limited to 10 or fewer people.
  • Salons and barbershops remain closed.
  •  Theaters, casinos, racetracks, bowling alleys, arcades and other amusement venues, museums, zoos, playgrounds, campgrounds, swimming pools, skating rinks, etc., remain closed.
 As of May 2, new cases in the state were on a continuous uptrend.


On April 30 Kansas Gov. Lisa Kelly presented Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas, her detailed framework for reopening the Kansas economy. Phase One will begin on May 4, the day on which the state’s current stay-home order lifts.

Citizens are encouraged to wear a cloth face mask when in public and gatherings are limited to 10 persons.

During Phase One, certain businesses will not be allowed to reopen. These include bars and nightclubs (except those already providing curbside and carryout food service, theaters and museums, casinos, fitness center and gyms, and personal service businesses.

All other businesses are allowed to open, provided they:

  • Maintain social distancing
  • Follow industry-specific guidelines from the state for cleaning and health practices
  • Do not allow groups of more than 10 persons if they cannot maintain 6 feet of distance between them
As of May 2, new cases in Kansas continued to trend upward.


Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced on May 4 that the first phase of his Healthy at Work plan would go into effect on May 11, allowing businesses to reopen under minimum requirements established by the state. Eligible business sectors include: construction, photography, office-based businesses (at 50 percent capacity), horse racing without spectators, vehicle dealerships (at 25 percent of showroom capacity) and manufacturing and distribution.

On May 20, retail stores and houses of worship can reopen and on May 25, social gatherings of 10 persons will be allowed and personal care businesses can reopen.

Minimum requirements for all businesses include:

  • Universal masks for employees, and encouraging customers to wear masks
  • Limiting face-to-face interaction
  • Phased return to work of employees
  • Daily health and temperature tests and a plan for COVID-19 testing if needed
  • Designating a “Healthy at Work” Officer
  • Contact tracing
As of May 3, new cases in Kentucky were on a slight upward trend.


On April 30, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a proclamation extending his state’s stay-at-home order until May 15. The order confirmed that personal care businesses, places of public amusement, gyms and malls are to remain closed. 

Restaurants can provide takeout or delivery services; outdoor dining is allowed, but without table service and if social distancing is practiced. Employees must wear face masks.

Non essential retail businesses are allowed to be open in the state, and must comply with the 10-person limit on gatherings. The state is moving forward with guidance from a newly created commission, Resilient Louisiana. 

As of May 7, new cases were on a flat trend in Louisiana.


On April 29, Governor Janet Mills issued a “Stay Safer at Home” Executive Order. The new order extends existing stay-at-home guidelines until May 31, but it also sets in motion changes under the first of four stages in a Plan to Restart Maine’s Economy

Gatherings of more than 10 people remain prohibited, and all people entering or returning to the state must quarantine for a period of 14 days. A requirement for citizens to wear cloth face coverings in public settings “where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain” is new, and they are encouraged to make their own masks or purchase them from local businesses.

A number of businesses designated as essential have remained open under previous guidelines. Business activities that will be allowed to resume as of May 1 include:

  • Personal care services such as barber shops and hair salons
  • Licensed medical providers, with a priority on the delivery of time-sensitive medical services
  • Stay-in-your-vehicle religious services 
  • Drive-in movie theaters 
  • Auto dealerships and car washes
Parks, trails and historic sites may reopen with the exception of some coastal state parks. Restricted use of golf and disc golf courses is permitted. Progression through the stages of the plan will be halted, and restrictions reimplemented if the Maine CDC finds that cases are resurging. As of April 28, the state had seen just over 1,000 cases and 52 deaths.


On May 13, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that Maryland will move from its current Safe at Home order to a “Safer at Home” public health advisory at 5:00 p.m. on May 18. The move follows guidelines set out in his detailed Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery plan. 

The new order from the governor amends earlier orders and authorizes the state’s secretary of health to issue directives in relation to activities it permits. More restrictive local orders are allowed. 

All customers, all workers who interface with customers and all riders using public transit, are required to wear face coverings. Violation of orders on face coverings and social distancing are classified as misdemeanors.

Gatherings larger than 10 are prohibited. However, religious facilities are allowed to open if they restrict occupancy to 50 percent. Other changes include:

  • Retail establishments may open as long as occupancy does not exceed 50 percent of established maximum occupancy.
  • Beauty salons and barber shops may reopen to provide hair services on an appointment basis, with a 50 percent occupancy limit. Customers and staff are required to wear face coverings.
  • Golf courses, driving ranges, shooting ranges, marinas, campgrounds and horse riding facilities may reopen.
Business operations that remain closed include:

  • Dine-in service at restaurants (takeout and drive-through service is allowed)
  • Fitness, with the exception of child-care service delivered at such facilities
  • Theaters
  • Common areas of malls
  • Retail establishments only accessible through common areas of malls
  • Tattoo and massage parlors
Resources from Maryland Strong include industry-specific guidelines. General guidelines include daily employee screening, face coverings and cleaning according to CDC protocols.


As of May 14, cases were trending slightly upward in the state over the previous two weeks.


Gov. Charlie Baker has released a four-phase plan for reopening his state, and there are suggestions that the process could begin as early as May 18. However, as of May 13, he had not released details regarding which businesses will be allowed to open in Phase 1, or what the standards will be. An announcement is planned for May 18.

As of May 14, cases were trending downward in Massachusetts.


On Friday, April 24, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an Executive Order that both extended the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order through May 15 and loosened restrictions for some businesses and outdoor activities.

Businesses that are allowed to reopen include:

  • Landscapers, lawn-service companies, and nurseries, subject to strict social distancing
  • Retailers that do not sell necessary supplies are allowed to provide curbside pick-up and for delivery
  • “Closed areas” such as garden centers, in big box stores
  • Bicycle repair and maintenance shops
Motorized boating is allowed, as is golf (without golf carts). Parks remain open.

Citizens are required to wear homemade face coverings in enclosed public spaces, but not while walking outside in their neighborhoods. Those who do not wear masks will not be subject to criminal penalties.

On April 26, the Governor issued a second Executive Order outlining “temporary safety measures” for food-selling establishments and pharmacies. The practices outlined in the order include:

  • Any person who can “medically tolerate” a face covering is required to wear one when entering a pharmacy or food-selling establishment.
  • Checkout employees are required to cover their noses and mouths.
  • Pharmacies and food-selling business must provide at least two hours of dedicated shopping time per week for vulnerable populations, defined as “people over 60, pregnant people, and those with chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.”
  • The order outlines sanitation procedures and detailed guidelines for daily monitoring of employee health.
  • Providing lower-exposure assignments to employees in vulnerable populations.
Willful violation of the safety measures in the Executive Order is classified as a misdemeanor.


On April 23, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced an Executive Order that would allow workers in industrial and office settings to begin to return to work on April 27, if their employers develop a “COVID-19 Preparedness Plan” addressing matters including screening for illness, social distancing and hygiene; certify the plan; distribute it to workers; and train them on the contents.

At present, the state’s stay-at-home order remains in place.

New cases in the state are currently trending upward.


On April 24, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued an updated “Safer at Home” Executive Order, effective April 27-May 11. Essential activities for which residents are allowed to leave home include recreation and outdoor activity as well as operating a business and performing job duties.

Under the order, all businesses and nonprofits can reopen, or remain open, though there are numerous exceptions to this rule. Playgrounds, parks, beaches, amusement parks, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other places of “amusement and recreation” are to remain closed, as are gyms, dance studios, salons and other personal care and grooming facilities. Elective medical procedures may resume. Citizens are asked to practice social distancing and to avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more. Masks are not mentioned in the Executive Order.

Vulnerable individuals, including persons over 65 and those with underlying health conditions are encouraged to continue to shelter at home. Violations of the order are subject to enforcement under Mississippi emergency management law.

New cases in the state appear to be on an upward trend.


On April 27, Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced that his state would begin to reopen economic and social economic and social activity on Monday, May 4. Initial reopening will follow guidelines in the first phase of the “Show Me Strong Recovery Plan.” 

Phase 1 guidelines issued pursuant include the following:

  • Citizens are advised to avoid socializing in groups where circumstances do not permit adequate social distancing, such as trade shows and receptions.
  • Businesses engaged in retail sales must maintain 25 percent or less of building code occupancy limits if under 10,000 square feet and 10 percent or less if over 10,000 square feet.
  • Events at large venues, stadiums and movie theaters are allowed if they follow social distancing practices.
  • Dine-in restaurant service is allowed according to guidelines such as placing tables six feet apart, having no more than 10 people at a table and not seating parties that are “not connected” at the same table.
  • Gyms and hotel swimming pools are allowed to open “if they adhere to strict social distancing and sanitation protocols.”
  • In-person religious services are allowed, though practices such as hand shaking and sharing communion cups are discouraged.
  • Schools remain closed. Summer school may proceed at the discretion of districts. Daycare and child care are allowed if CDC guidelines for these activities are followed.
Business owners are asked to implement practices including temperature checks, contact tracing, sanitation and disinfection, modifying workspaces to maximize distancing, telework when possible and bringing employees back in phases or split shifts. 

As of April 28, new cases in the state had trended slightly downward over the previous 14 days and slightly upward over the previous week.


The phased reopening of businesses in Montana began on Monday, April 27. “There are very few states in the country that can say they have seen the number of positive cases decline over these past weeks,” Gov. Steve Bullock said in announcing new guidelines on April 24.

Stay-at-home orders for individuals expired on April 26. They are advised to “strongly consider” using non-medical face coverings, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. Vulnerable populations, including those with underlying medical conditions, are encouraged to continue to stay at home.

On April 27, main street and retail businesses were allowed to open “if they can adhere to requirements to limit capacity and maintain strict physical distancing.” Employers are directed to develop to screen and protect workers and to safeguard customers.

Restaurants and bars will be allowed to resume in-establishment services under reduced capacity and social distancing guidelines beginning May 4. If allowed by local school boards, schools can resume in-classroom teaching on May 7. Gyms, pools, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other places of public assembly remain closed. Local jurisdictions are not prohibited from making more restrictive ordinances.

New cases in Montana have been trending downward significantly for several weeks.


Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced on May 24 that changes were coming to restrictions on business operations and social gatherings, to go into effect on May 4. Each county in the state has its own health department, and each will issue its own Directed Health Measures (DHMs).

At a press briefing, the governor outlined some of the changes that updated DHMs will include:

  • Relaxed requirements for places of worship.
  • In some counties, personal service businesses will be allowed to open, subject to a limit of 10 persons. Workers and patrons are required to wear masks.
  • Restaurants may open at 50 percent capacity.
  • Bars, movie theaters and playhouses remain closed through May 31
During the press event, the CEO of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services outlined plans to mobilize 1,000 people to assist with contact tracing.

As of May 2, new cases in Nebraska continued on an upward trend.


On May 7, Gov. Steve Sisolak introduced Phase One of his Roadmap to Recovery for Nevada and moved the date at which some businesses that are currently shut down from the previously announced target date of May 15 to May 8. Casinos in the state will remain closed, as will bars, gyms, movie theaters and other entertainment venues.

All citizens are encouraged to stay at home and to wear facial coverings in public. Gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer people, unless those involved live in the same household. Parks that are open are for day use only. Golf, tennis and pickleball are allowed if social distancing is in place. Drive-up religious services are permitted.

Facial coverings are mandatory for all employees of the businesses that will be reopening. Additional guidelines include:

  • Retail businesses must limit occupancy to 50 percent capacity.
  • Hair and nail salons must maintain distancing, provide service by appointment only and require customers to wait outside.
  • Open-air malls may open, with distancing in place. Indoor malls can provide outdoor pickup service. 
  • Drive-in theaters can reopen.
  • Auto dealers must limit showroom occupancy to 50 percent and allow unaccompanied test drives.
As of May 6, new cases in Nevada were on a level trend, in the same general range as the high points in previous weeks.

New Hampshire

Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire announced a modified order, Stay at Home 2.0, that allows gradual reopening of businesses in the state. New guidelines have been provided for parks, campgrounds and manufacturers.

As of May 4, some time-sensitive health-care services were allowed to resume, but the guidance document leaves it to local communities to make the final determination. Businesses that can begin to open or expand services on May 11 include retail stores, drive-in movie theaters, golf courses and hair salons.

On May 18, restaurants will be able to provide outdoor service to groups no larger than 6, with tables more than 6 feet apart and employees able to stand 6 feet from adjacent tables. Other guidelines include customer face covering while entering, exiting and visiting bathrooms; face coverings for employees; and adhering to CDC advices for cleaning, serving and reducing transmission between employees.

As of May 3, new cases in New Hampshire had been trending upward for several weeks.

New Jersey

On May 13, Gov. Phil Murphy issued an Executive Order providing guidelines for the reopening of some non-essential businesses on Monday, May 18.

These include:

  • Non-essential construction, with staggered lunch breaks, masks for workers and visitors and frequent sanitization of high-touch areas.
  • Non-essential retail, for curbside pickup only. Customers are not allowed to enter buildings, but must remain in their car and wait for their purchase to be delivered.
  • Retail businesses in shopping malls may open, but purchases must be delivered outside of the mall.
An Executive Order on April 29 opened state parks and forests to activities in which social distancing can be maintained, including fishing, hunting, boating, biking, hiking, running and horseback riding. Picnic areas, playgrounds, visitor centers and restrooms were to remain closed. Parking is limited to 50 percent capacity. 

Reopening the state will continue according to principles outlined in the governor’s plan, "The Road Back; Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health." These include expanding testing capacity, deploying an “army” of contact tracers and providing safe and free places for persons who test positive for the virus to isolate.

As of May 17, new cases in New Jersey had been trending steadily downward for several weeks.

New Mexico

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico announced an April 30 extension of an emergency public health order that would ease some restrictions on businesses. As of May 1, non-essential retailers were allowed to provide curbside pickup and delivery services, and child care is extended to the owners of such businesses (as it has been to those in businesses essential to health, safety and welfare).

Additional changes include:

  • If staff is available, parks can open on a day-use basis.
  • Licensed firearm sellers may open on an appointment basis, with additional restrictions
  • Golf courses are allowed to open for golf only
  • Pet services, including veterinarians, are allowed to reopen
As of May 3, new cases in the state had been trending upward for several weeks.

New York 

On May 11, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that some regions in this state had met the requirements for reopening and could resume business operations on May 15 if current trends continue. The NY Forward plan is designed to open on a regional rather than statewide basis, recognizing the significant differences in population density in different parts of the state.

For a region to reopen, it must accomplish the following: 

  • A 14-day decline in total hospitalizations, or a daily total that has never exceeded 15
  • A 14-day decline in deaths, or a daily average that has never exceeded 5
  • Fewer than 2 new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents
  • At least 30 percent of hospital beds and 30 percent of ICU beds are available
  • Be able to conduct 30 tests per 1,000 residents per month
  • Have the number of contact tracers required for the region
The Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley regions have met these requirements. Businesses in them that will be allowed to reopen in Phase 1 of the state’s plan include construction, manufacturing, wholesale supply chain and curbside pickup or delivery retail operations and agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Employees and customers are required to wear masks if in frequent close contact. Businesses are asked to develop processes that are appropriate to their operations, including such things as screening workers and reporting confirmed positive tests of employees to customers.

As of May 11, new cases were trending downward in New York.

North Carolina

On May 5, Governor Roy Cooper signed an Executive Order modifying North Carolina’s Stay at Home Order and announced that transition to Phase 1 of easing restrictions would begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 8.

The order eliminates the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses and citizens are allowed to leave their homes to go to any business that is open. It’s recommended that all workers wear face coverings. 

Businesses are to operate at 50 percent capacity and to require six feet of distancing between customers. Face coverings are encouraged for the public; outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, but can include friends.

Bars and restaurants remain limited to takeout and delivery service. Salons and other personal care businesses, treatures, gyms and playgrounds remain closed. Worship services are to be conducted outdoors. Persons using public transportation are advised to follow recommendations including wearing face coverings, carrying sanitizer,  and maintaining a distance of six feet from others.

As of May 9, new cases were trending upward in North Carolina.

North Dakota

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed an Executive Order on April 29 that would allow a number of businesses to reopen on May 1, provided they follow the rules and procedures in the state’s Smart Restart plan. These include:

  • Restaurants, bars, breweries, food trucks and cafes, are limited to 50 percent capacity and 10 persons per table. Salad bars and buffets may operate if “pre-portioned servings are prepared by staff.”
  • Personal care businesses such as nail and hair salons, barbers, tanning studios and tattoo studios. Employees are to wear masks.
  • Health clubs and athletic facilities, under conditions including 1 person per 100 square feet for fitness classes, saunas, steam rooms, etc., group sports with more than 10 persons playing at the same time and staff training regarding cleaning and PPE.
  • Movie theaters, at 20 percent of normal capacity, including two empty seats between parties and other protocols for reducing crowding. Self-service drinks, condiments, etc., are not allowed.
As of May 2, new cases in North Dakota were trending upward.


On May 7, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that the next phase of the Responsible RestartOhio plan would be implemented beginning May 15.

Personal care businesses such as hair salons, barbershops, tanning salons and day spas will be allowed to open on that date.

Restaurants will be allowed to provide outdoor dining service, and to offer dine-in service beginning May 21.

An April 30 order from the director of the state’s department of health reopened most businesses in the state at midnight on that day, requiring them to maintain social distancing. Businesses must require employees to wear facial coverings, with certain restrictions, and the order states that they must “allow” customers to use them.

Other changes under the order include:

  • Dentists and medical providers can resume non-essential surgeries and procedures.
  • General office environments may reopen on May 4, under certain guidelines, though teleworking is strongly encouraged.
  • Retail businesses may open at 11:59 p.m. on May 1 to curbside pickup, delivery or service by appointment, with a maximum of 10 customers at any one time. They will be allowed to reopen their facilities on May 12, but must follow guidelines including temperature checks for employees, distancing between employees and customers, hours for at-risk populations, and more.
Persons using public transportation are asked to comply with social distancing guidelines to the greatest extent possible. Six-foot distancing is specified, as is covering coughs and sneezes, but the guidelines do not require or recommend face coverings.

As of May 9, new cases were trending upward in Ohio.


Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced on April 24 that his state had met all of the White House guidelines for reopening and introduced Oklahoma’s Open Up and Recover Safely (OURS) plan.

According to the plan, businesses opened in two stages, with one group beginning on April 24, and more reopening on May 1.

On April 24, personal care businesses were allowed to reopen provided the sanitation protocols are in place and distancing is maintained between customers. It’s advised that customers wait in their cars until their appointments.

On May 1, the following changes took hold:

  • Restaurant dining rooms, movie theaters, gyms and sporting venues can to reopen if they follow CDC protocols for distancing and sanitation.
  • Tattoo parlors reopened for appointments only.
Bars remain closed, with a goal of May 15 for them to resume operations with decreased standing room occupancy.

As of May 2, new cases in Oklahoma were trending slightly downward.


On May 7, Gov. Kate Brown announced new details of Building a Safe and Strong Oregon,  a framework for reopening Oregon that would enable counties to allow limited reopening of some businesses that have been ordered to close.

While an Executive Order of March 23 ordered the closure of many types businesses in the state, it did not explicitly order the closure of every retail business that might be considered “non-essential.”

Beginning on May 8, counties are to apply for approval to begin the next stage of reopening and must meet criteria including:

  • A decline in cases or less than 5 hospitalizations
  • Sufficient capability for testing and contact tracing
  • Plans for isolation and quarantine of newly infected persons
  • Hospital capacity to handle a surge in cases
  • Adequate PPE
Counties whose applications are approved by the governor, on the recommendation of the Oregon Health Authority, can enter Phase 1 on May 15 and begin to allow sit-down service at restaurants and bars, personal care services and in-person gatherings of up to 25 people.

As of May 6, new cases in Oregon were trending slightly upward.


On May 4, Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania announced that businesses in 24 counties that have been closed completely under the “red” phase of the state’s recover plan could begin to open according to standards in the “yellow” phase of the Plan to Reopen Pennsylvania.

In the yellow phase, public gatherings of more than 25 are prohibited. Personal care services, gyms and entertainment venues remain closed. Restaurants and bars are limited to delivery and carry-out food service.

In-person retail businesses will be allowed to reopen, and are encouraged to provide curbside pickup and delivery services. Other guidelines include practices such as limiting occupancy to 50 percent capacity, encouraging online ordering, requiring customers to wear masks, hourly handwashing breaks, and taking employee temperatures before they enter the business.

As of May 3, new cases in Pennsylvania were trending slightly downward.

Rhode Island

On Thursday, May 7, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that her state’s plan for reopening its economy will begin to move forward on Saturday, May 9. She noted that the changes during the first phase, “Testing the Water,” will not be significant.

Social gatherings of more than five people are prohibited until May 22. This restriction also applies to churches in the state, though the limit for funerals is 10 guests. Some parks will be opened, including their public parking areas.

Guidelines for businesses in Phase 1 include:

  • Every citizen who is able to work from home should continue to work from home, though employees can visit offices for critical meetings if social distancing is practiced.
  • Retail stores may only offer in-store pickup. There is a limit of one customer per 300 square feet. Guidelines for screening employees, cleaning and signage must be implemented. 
  • Employees and customers are to wear face masks, unless they can continuously maintain a distance of six feet for the duration of their time in the building. However, business owners are not required to refuse entry if a customer is not wearing a mask.
  • Businesses are to screen all customers for symptoms before they are allowed to enter their buildings. If they choose, this can include temperature checks.
  • Elective medical procedures will be allowed to resume.
  • “Close-contact” businesses such as hair salons and massage parlors will not be allowed to reopen on May 10.
As of May 6, new cases in Rhode Island were trending downward.

South Carolina

In an Executive Order on April 20, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster amended his earlier order to allow certain non-essential businesses to reopen at 5 p.m. that day. These include furniture stores, clothing stores, department stores and sporting goods stores. Businesses are required to limit customers to 20 percent of their occupancy limit or five per 1,000 square feet of retail space, whichever is less. Business owners are asked to follow sanitation guidelines and to ensure that customers remain six feet apart. Masks are not mentioned. 

The order rescinds the closure of public beach access points and related facilities, but authorizes those responsible for them to take any steps “necessary to preserve or protect public health,” including closure. 

South Dakota

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem released her Back to Normal Plan on April 28. The state never issued a “stay at home” or “shelter in place” order, and never required any businesses to close. It does not require masks, but suggests that citizens consider CDC guidance on the subject.

Those in the category of “enclosed retail business that promotes public gatherings,” including restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms or health clubs and entertainment venues are advised to resume operations in a manner that allows for distancing and to consider restricting occupancy.

As of May 2, new cases in South Dakota were trending downward.


On April 24, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee began efforts to reopen his state under guidelines from his Tennessee Pledge, allowing restaurants in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to open at 50 percent occupancy on April 27. Retail businesses are allowed to reopen on April 29 at 50 percent occupancy. The state’s Safer at Home guidelines went into effect on March 30 and expired at midnight on April 15.

The state’s Economic Recovery Group has developed guidelines for employee health screening in both industries, and recommends that employees wear cloth face coverings and practice social distancing. Business owners are referred to CDC standards for cleaning and disinfecting.

“We are pursuing a careful, measured approach to reopening our economy that does not depend on heavy-handed mandates but instead provides practical tools for businesses of all sizes,” Lee said.

New cases in the state appear to be trending upward.


On April 27, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he will not extend the stay-at-home order that expires on April 30. He also released a report from the Strike Force to Reopen Texas, that includes guidelines for citizens and businesses and plans for increasing testing and contact tracking.

Under a new Executive Order, retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums and libraries are permitted to reopen on May 1 provided they limit their capacity to 25 percent of their listed occupancy. “Interactive areas” such as food courts, play areas and interactive displays are to remain closed during this first phase, as are such facilities as pools, gyms, bowling alleys, massage parlors, cosmetology salons and tattoo parlors.
In counties that can provide evidence of five or fewer laboratory-documented COVID-19 cases, businesses will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity. The task force notes that 76 percent of fatalities to date were Texans 65 and older and includes a plan to mitigate the spread of the virus in long-term care facilities. Citizens are referred to CDC guidelines for matters including prevention, cleaning and disinfecting, symptoms and testing.

The trend line for new cases in Texas has remained relatively flat in recent weeks.


Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah issued an Executive Order on April 29 that placed the state under “moderate risk” protocols for COVID-19 as of May 1. Guidelines for this stage of the state’s return are outlined in the Utah Leads Together Plan.

Employers and the public are both encouraged to take “extreme precautions” such as wearing masks in places where social distancing is difficult to maintain, limiting social activities to groups of 20 or fewer and to follow standards provided by the CDC.

Both customers and employees are to wear face masks in retail businesses, and occupancy is limited to one person per 10 square feet. Social distancing is to be enforced via signage and markings.

Dine-in service is allowed in restaurants, with a limit of 10 persons per table. Staff are to wear masks and to wear gloves when handling ready-to-eat foods and to perform hand hygiene after every operation at each table.

Gyms and fitness centers are allowed to open if they follow guidelines in the plan.

Utahns are still encouraged to stay home as much as possible, but may see small groups of family and friends who have been following recommendations on distancing and hygiene.

Some establishments that have been closed by public health orders, including gyms, salons and other personal care establishments, are permitted to resume operations under very strict guidelines.

Dine-in options are once again permitted, where eating establishments exercise extreme precautions detailed in the plan.

As of May 2, new cases in Utah were trending upward.


On April 24, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott issued an addendum to a previous Executive Order announcing new guidelines for businesses under his Work Smart & Stay Safe plan. Under the order, as of April 27:

  • Crews of no more than five persons are allowed to perform outdoor work and construction in structures that are not occupied.
  • Manufacturing and distribution companies may reopen, with a limit of five employees per location and employees can remain six feet apart at all times.
  • In-person shopping is allowed at outdoor retail businesses such as garden centers and greenhouses. A maximum of 10 persons is permitted, including staff and customers.
  • Libraries may provide curbside pick-up.
Businesses must follow detailed guidelines for workplace safety and safety training. Employees must wear masks in the presence of customers.

Farmers markets will be allowed to open May 1 if approved by local municipalities, and if they follow guidelines for food distribution and distancing.

As of April 30, new cases in Vermont were trending steeply downward.


On May 8, Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia issued an Executive Order that allows for the reopening of certain businesses. All businesses are to follow guidelines from the state including distancing, face coverings where possible, limiting in-person meetings and cleaning and disinfection according to CDC standards.

Guidelines that go into effect as of 12:00 a.m. on May 15 include:

  • Restaurants, breweries, food courts and tasting rooms can provide outdoor dining services at 50 percent occupancy, with no more than 10 persons per table. Employees in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings at all times.
  • Farmers markets can reopen. Employees and vendors must wear masks and physical distancing is required, including configuring operations in a way that avoids congestion.
  • Retail businesses can operate if they maintain 50 percent occupancy. Employees who interact with customers are to wear face coverings.
  • Gyms and fitness centers can open for outdoor activities only. Outdoor activities are limited to no more than 10 persons. Equipment that cannot be thoroughly disinfected between uses is prohibited. Employees in customer-facing areas are to wear masks.
  • Personal care and grooming businesses are to limit occupancy to 50 percent, with at least 6 feet between workstations. Employees must wear face coverings and services must be limited to those that can be delivered to clients wearing face masks.
Campgrounds and indoor shooting ranges are also allowed to reopen, if they follow guidelines in the executive order. Theaters, racetracks and other places of public amusement remain closed, as do schools and beaches. Religious services can resume at 50 percent occupancy, with 6 feet of distance between participants.

As of May 11, new cases had been uptrending slightly over the previous two weeks.


Gov. Jay Inslee released his phased plan for reopening his state, Safe Start Washington, on May 4. On the same day, he issued a proclamation that would allow limited business operations to resume on May 5 under Phase 1 of the plan.
These include:

  • Retail operations, but only on a curbside pick-up basis
  • Vehicle and vessel sales
  • Landscaping and lawn care  
  • Car washes
  • Pet walking
Social gatherings of any size remain prohibited. As of May 5, a number of outdoor activities are allowed, including golfing, hiking, biking, hunting and fishing, boating and day use of parks and public lands. Limited travel to engage in these and other Phase 1 activities allowed. Only drive-in religious services are permitted. 

As of May 5, cases in the state were on a long-term downtrend, with a slight uptrend in recent weeks.

West Virginia

On April 30, Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia issued a “Safer at Home” Executive Order that outlines businesses to begin reopening on May 4. Citizens are advised to remain at home as much as possible. Outdoor activities are characterized as “essential,” and gatherings up to 25 persons are allowed, provided social distancing is practiced.

Changes implemented under the order include the following:

  • Some small businesses will be allowed to resume operations. These include retail businesses that have 10 employees or fewer and limited customer interaction, including those with a history of 50 or fewer customers per day. They are to limit occupancy to two customers per 1,000 square feet of interior space.
  • Restaurants are allowed to provide outdoor food service according to guidelines developed by the state.
  • Barber shops and hair and nail salons will be allowed to reopen. Customers are to wait in their vehicles until it is time for them to receive services.
  • Dog groomers may reopen.
As of April 30, new cases in West Virginia were trending downward


On April 27, Gov. Tony Evers issued an Emergency Order to “Turn the Dial” on his earlier safer-at-home orders and begin a phased reopening under the state’s Badger Bounce Back plan.

Certain non-essential businesses are allowed to open under “minimum basic operation” guidelines, free of contact with customers. These include dog groomers, upholstery businesses and small engine repair shops. 

Operations must be performed by one staff member. Customers are not allowed to enter the business, and must order services online or by phone, with pick-up and delivery times scheduled in advance. Rental of outdoor recreational vehicles such as boats, ATVs and golf carts is allowed under the same guidelines.

A press release from the governor’s office notes other restrictions that have been lifted, for example:

  • All businesses are allowed to offer curbside pickup of orders placed online or on the phone.
  • Landscaping and construction businesses can do aesthetic or optional work if it is done by a single employee
  • Golf courses have been reopened
As of April 30, new cases in Wisconsin were trending upward.

On May 13 the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the extended "safer at home" order, claiming that the state's top health official exceeded her authority and needed legislative oversight before enacting the language. Local governments, such as Madison and Dane Counties, are enacting their own stay at home orders which will keep schools closed and continue to prohibit all non-essential travel.


On April 28 Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon announced new public health orders that would allow certain businesses in his state to reopen on May 1.

Restaurants are not yet allowed to provide in-house dining. Gyms will be permitted to open if they abide by guidelines including face coverings for staff, limiting patrons and closing locker rooms. Gyms are also prohibited from offering one-on-one personal training and group classes.

Personal care businesses, including hair salons, barber shops and tattoo and massage parlors can reopen. Guidelines for these facilities include a requirement for staff and patrons to wear face masks, limiting the number of people in a confined space to less than 10 and providing service only on the basis of appointments.

As of May 2, new cases in Wyoming were trending upward over the past two weeks.

The Policymakers’ Dilemma

State leaders are under pressure to cancel or revise shelter-in-place orders and allow businesses to reopen, workers to return to their jobs and customers to return to shops. Despite issuing guidelines for reopening the economy and admitting that each governor does have the final say, President Trump has not been critical of social media-inspired protestors defying distancing orders and seeking to “liberate” their states. Attorney General William Barr has said he would consider suing states if he feels that their stay-at-home guidelines infringe on civil rights.

There are no “sides” in this controversy. Public health and the economy are intertwined, and the best solutions support both. For health officials, the current challenge is to set the right course when so much remains unknown, from testing and infection rates to antibody and immunity issues.

The long-term course of the pandemic remains unclear. Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that a resurgence is possible in the fall. A vaccine is 12 to 18 months away at best, and the alternative of fostering herd immunity by allowing millions to become ill is hard to embrace.

Even so, change is coming soon. Twenty states have stay-at-home orders that will expire at the end of April. The governors of Tennessee, Ohio and Colorado have already indicated that they do not plan to extend their orders. Another 14 states have orders that will expire by mid-May. California, Maryland, New Jersey and Oregon have not yet announced end dates for their restrictions.

Guidelines from each state will be announced over the coming months, and this page will provide a running account of them. Over time, our plan is to track how specific policies and their timing influence the containment of the virus and the economic recovery of states, including changes that become necessary if new outbreaks occur.

Context: Considerations and Choices in the States and Localities

The following is not intended to be comprehensive but the developments described below provide context for the gradual unlocking of places across the country.

Updated: Tuesday, May 26

Americans packed swimming pools, beaches, lakefronts and trails over the Memorial Day weekend, many ignoring guidance regarding social distancing and masks. “We’re tired of being stuck in the house,” said a spectator at a racetrack in North Carolina. 

The Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit against California over its plan to allow all voters to vote by mail in November. The move, made to support the state’s efforts to contain  COVID-19, was characterized by the RNC as an “illegal power grab” by the governor.

The floor of the New York Stock Exchange will reopen today. Only 25 percent of traders will be allowed to return to work. They will wear masks, be separated by transparent barriers, avoid public transportation and have their temperatures taken as they arrive.

Meatpacking plants around the country are reopening. Efforts by health officials to prevent the high rates of transmission seen in such facilities are being hindered by company concerns that transparency will lead to stigma.

Judges and court mediators in Reno, Nev., report that doing their work via Zoom has led to notable improvements. Mediators are experiencing higher success rates, for example, because negotiations between parties are not as emotionally charged when they are not in the same room. 

Updated: Friday, May 22

The latest seven-day total of COVID-19 cases in California is similar to what was seen at the height of the outbreak. This is attributed in part to a 25 percent increase in testing. The rate of positive tests has decreased slightly.

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation has concluded that implementing social distancing guidelines on March 8 rather than March 15 would have prevented 36,000 COVID-19 deaths.

A federal appeals court in Texas halted a ruling from a federal court in the state that would have enabled those concerned about coronavirus exposure to vote by mail. At present, absentee voting in Texas is limited to persons 65 or older, and those with disabilities.

A Pentecostal church in Mississippi that had defied the state’s coronavirus guidelines on the basis that they violate free speech rights was burned to the ground. A message saying, “bet you stay home now” was found at the scene.

Republicans in New Jersey filed a lawsuit in the state’s Superior Court charging that the governor’s coronavirus orders had caused “irreparable harm to innumerable small businesses.” They are seeking a declaration that his executive orders violate equal protection and due process clauses of the state’s constitution in an injunction against further infringements of these rights.


An independent review of the smartphone app that North and South Dakota are using for contact tracing found that, contrary to its own privacy policy, it is sharing personal data with an outside company and not just public health departments. “Should this have been vetted? Yes,” said North Dakota’s contact-tracing facilitator.

Updated: Thursday, May 21

Two days after gyms and fitness centers in Fort Lauderdale were allowed to reopen, the mayor has advised them to close again. County officials are not in agreement with the statewide order from the governor that allows these facilities to reopen, and business owners could face fines and other sanctions.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom made a surprise announcement that television and movie production could resume as soon as next week. Union leaders and production producers are skeptical. “There’s no way we're ready yet,” said an agency executive.

Although every state has now reopened, few have met all four of the “gating criteria” in the reopening guidelines issued by the White House. A new project is tracking where each state stands in regard to them, with daily updates. 

Despite the fact that traffic on U.S. highways decreased significantly, the National Safety Council reports that the rate of traffic fatalities per mile driven was 14 percent higher in March 2020  than in March 2019. The increase is attributed to speeding and reckless driving.

Apple and Google released the software that they have developed to help public health departments with contact tracking. Alabama, North Dakota and South Carolina have committed to using the technology to build their own apps.

Updated: Wednesday, May 20

The governor of Alaska announced that his state would return to a pre-pandemic operating basis on Friday. “It will all be open just like it was prior to the virus,” he said. 

Federal attorneys sent a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom expressing concern about the effect of his policies on religious gatherings. The letter charges that “the Constitution calls for California to do more to accommodate religious worship." 

new poll finds that only about a third of Americans believe it’s a good idea to reopen K-12 schools in the fall. Even so, only 16 percent believe online instruction has been “very effective.”

The CDC has published detailed reopening guidelines that the White House had earlier rejected as “too prescriptive.” The guidance includes maintaining a “low threshold” for reinstating strict social distancing measures if cases rebound.

There’s general agreement that an effective vaccine would be a game-changer in regard to total reopening of state economies. However, researchers are expressing concern about a trend of promoting positive results from trials in the press, without providing critical details and before findings are published.

Bars can reopen in Austin on Friday, operating at 25 percent capacity. Customers will be required to order from tables, and dancing is discouraged.

Updated: Tuesday, May 19

On Monday, responding to a suit filed by 10 churches, a judge in Oregon ruled that the governor’s social distancing rules were unconstitutional. By the next day, the state’s Supreme Court had halted the judge’s order pending its review of the decision.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that 53 of the state’s 58 counties would be allowed to move to the next phase of his state’s reopening plan. Hair salons, restaurant dining rooms and retail shopping outlets could reopen as early as June 1.

In some parts of Florida, restaurants, malls, libraries and gyms reopened on Monday, operating at 50 percent capacity. These businesses remain closed in Miami and Miami Beach.

Massachusetts and Connecticut will begin to reopen this week, the last two states to allow non-essential businesses to resume operations. Restrictions will be lifted on Wednesday in Connecticut. Massachusetts began to reopen on Monday.


New cases are uptrending in at least 17 states, as some states begin to move into the next phase of reopening. It’s unclear what the combination of relaxed guidelines and the Memorial Day holiday will bring.

Updated: Monday, May 18

With 2.5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. accounts for 29 percent of COVID-19 fatalities. In recent days, administration officials have blamed the high death rate on the poor health of Americans and the CDC’s problems with test development.

Casinos are reopening in Baton Rouge, La., but limited to 25 percent capacity. Restaurants and bars in the casinos will remain closed. Although revenues from the industry were already declining before the coronavirus, it still brought hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to the state.

The Alameda County Department of Health has approved the reopening of a Tesla car manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif., after reviewing its safety plan. Last week,Tesla founder Elon Musk announced that the plant had reopened in defiance of stay-at-home orders, and dared county officials to arrest him.

Gyms and office buildings are expected to reopen on May 18 in Texas. The state reported its largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with about 40 percent resulting from targeted testing of workers at meat plants.

In Italy, shops, restaurants and churches opened their doors for the first time since early March. Meanwhile, tourism remains heavily curtailed. Travelers are an important customer base in many Italian cities, and it’s unclear when they will return. 

Updated: Friday, May 15

Revised CDC guidance documents for reopening businesses have been released. Earlier versions had been rejected because of concerns from the White House that they were too “prescriptive.” They come at a time when most states have already allowed businesses to reopen.

In a virtual meeting with the vice president, a group of college presidents said that they would be more likely to reopen if they had protection against liability if students become ill. Similar protection for businesses has been discussed in the Senate.

A new study suggests that coronavirus infections spread 35 times faster in areas of the U.S. that do not practice social distancing. The researchers compared case rates in areas where  restrictions regarding distancing were in place to those where such practices were “recommended.”

A group of parents in Louisiana filed a class-action lawsuit against the governor and the Office of Juvenile Justice asking for the release of children from juvenile detention. They say that the state is not taking adequate steps to protect incarcerated children.

Updated: Thursday, May 14

The night after the Wisconsin state Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Tony Evers could not extend his stay at home order, bars in the state reopened and attracted crowds of mask-free patrons. "We’re the Wild West,” said the governor. “There are no restrictions at all across the state of Wisconsin.”

A new study finds that speaking at a normal volume releases droplets that remain in the air for more than eight minutes. Though the study did not examine whether talking can cause transmission of coronavirus, it seems to add support to mask wearing as a precaution.

Three Pennsylvania counties now plan to reopen tomorrow without approval from the governor. The state is taking a county-by-county approach to reopening, and 37 countries have moved to the next phase of its plan.

Only 18 of California’s 58 counties have met requirements for reopening schools, malls and restaurants. The criteria include no more than 1 COVID-19 case per 10,000 residents, and no COVID-19 deaths, in the past 14 days.

Black leaders in Virginia are asking their governor to reconsider reopening the state this week. A letter from the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus expresses concern that persons of color will “become guinea pigs for our economy.”

Updated: Wednesday, May 13

California’s reopening continues and the latest news is both good and less good. While Gov. Newsom has announced that some restaurants will be able to reopen their dining rooms, residents in Los Angeles County heard that their stay-at-home order could remain in place until August.

New Jersey remains a coronavirus hot spot. A target date for reopening has not been set, but the governor has said there may be an announcement this week.

Small businesses have reopened following the relaxation of stay-at-home rules, but not all are seeing customers return at the rate they hoped to see. Haircuts, however, are in high demand.

Protestors gathered for the fifth week in Raleigh, N.C., to urge the governor to lift remaining restrictions on businesses. The organizer expressed an intention to form a nonprofit and begin a legal fight against the government.

White House adviser Jared Kushner caused alarm by seeming to suggest that it was not certain that the November election could be held if there is a coronavirus outbreak at that time. He later stated that he was unaware of, and not involved in, discussions on the subject.

Updated: Tuesday, May 12

Details of the reopening of Connecticut, New York and Virginia have been added.

After six new cases emerged, the city of Wuhan announced that it would test all 11 million residents for the coronavirus. The infections are the first since the city’s 11-week lockdown was lifted on April 8.

Requirements regarding masks vary in states that have reopened. In some cases they are required, in others “encouraged” and in some they are not mentioned in guidelines. A new literature review suggests that they can reduce transmission and reduce deaths if compliance rates are high.

Elon Musk announced on Twitter that he will reopen a Tesla assembly plant in California, ignoring current state guidelines. The plant is located in a county that is a coronavirus hot spot.

Restaurants in Washington state that resume dine-in service will be required to maintain a daily log of customers that includes details such as email addresses and telephone numbers. This information will be used to assist contact tracing efforts.

Scientists have expressed concern about the impact of reopening on the transmission rate of coronavirus. In the absence of mitigation, a person with the virus infects an average of two to three people. Stay-at-home orders brought this down below one in many states, which means new cases will decrease. Above one, new cases grow exponentially. 

Updated: Friday, May 8

Updates on the reopening of Rhode Island, Nevada and California have been added.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the American economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April, the largest and most sudden decline since it began tracking data in 1939. Unemployment reached 14.7 percent, the highest monthly rate since 1948.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that the first incident of community spread of the coronavirus in California occurred at a nail salon. Many states are delaying opening of personal care facilities until later stages of their plans.

A new survey finds that 71 percent of Americans are more worried about governments lifting social distancing restrictions too soon, while only 29 percent are concerned that this is not happening quickly enough. Both Republicans (69 percent) and Democrats (84 percent) do not think it will be safe to end stay-at-home orders for several weeks, several months or even six or more months.

The restaurant industry expects to lose $240 billion by the end of 2020, and working out how and when in-house dining can safely resume is a challenge. At present, almost two-thirds of Americans say that they would feel uncomfortable eating in a restaurant at present.

Data collected by a Harvard-based effort to track the economic impact of the pandemic suggests that reopening will not bring immediate rebounds to state economies. 

Updated: Thursday, May 7

Hawaii is allowing some nonessential  businesses to reopen today.

Guidelines developed by the CDC to help states with reopening businesses and schools have been rejected by the White House, and sent back for revisions. The changes are being requested on the basis that the CDC advices are “too prescriptive.”

Some businesses in Pennsylvania are ignoring orders from the governor to remain closed. To date, law enforcement has used warnings rather than citations to discourage the trend.

Disney Parks in Shanghai will reopen soon. Though Disney attractions in Florida and California are major contributors to the economies in those states, it’s too early to know when it will be safe for them to reopen.

Most states that have reopened have not satisfied the White House criteria for resuming business operations. Public health experts are concerned about what lies ahead in states that have eased restrictions while new cases and the percentage of positive tests are rising.

A salon owner in Dallas received a jail sentence for opening her business in defiance of current state guidelines. The judge offered her a chance to avoid jail if she apologized, but she refused. In Magnolia, Texas, two state legislators went for a trim at The Manly Salon, also open in violation of state orders, as an “act of civil disobedience.”

Updated: Wednesday, May 6

Four Republican legislators are suing Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in federal court over the constitutionality of his coronavirus-related orders. Four residents have joined the suit, which claims that the coronavirus emergency ‘has been contained” and thus there is no legal justification for continued restrictions on citizens and businesses. The governor described the lawsuit as “biologically ignorant and humanly heartless.”

A new national Washington Post-University of Maryland poll found that two-thirds of Americans surveyed believe that retail shops in their state should remain closed. Eighty percent felt that movie theaters and gyms should not reopen. The largest share of respondents (38 percent) felt that the worst was yet to come in their communities. Equal numbers (30 percent) felt that the worst had passed or that it was happening now.

A day after reports that the coronavirus task force would be disbanded in coming weeks, the president announced that it would continue its work indefinitely. He said that its focus would shift to vaccines and reopening the country, and that some members might be replaced.

New cases are increasing in a number of states that have allowed businesses to reopen — including  Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Kentucky, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Minnesota.

As controversy develops around requirements in many states for all citizens to wear masks in public, scientists air their own disagreements. A new report from a group of British scientists found that this practice can help prevent the spread of the virus, but other researchers claim that the evidence they cite is not sufficient to support their claim.

A place with no virus and no social distancing does exist. However, it’s not likely that many places are available in a global warming research project taking place in the Arctic Ocean.

Updated: Tuesday, May 5

Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Pennsylvania have announced changes regarding business operations. 

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington nearly doubled its estimate for American COVID-19 deaths by mid-August, to 134,000. The change was prompted by what it called "premature relaxation of social distancing," as some states reopen before case rates have declined and some citizens ignore guidelines.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California would begin to allow some businesses to reopen in the near future, in some parts of the state. The Bay Area and Los Angeles, the hardest-hit city in the state, will have to wait. 

A group of religious leaders, state delegates, and businesses filed a lawsuit against Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and the state’s health secretary and police superintendent. The suit charges that actions they have taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus are violating the rights of citizens.

Republican legislators in Maine who find fault with their governor’s reopening plans have asked for a special session, with the aim of removing her emergency powers. Democrats control both the House and the Senate in the state.

Three persons have been arrested in Flint, Mich., in connection with the fatal shooting of a security guard at a discount store. The shooting occurred when he asked one of them to put on a face mask before entering, as required under state reopening guidelines. 

Updated: Friday, May 1

It’s estimated that as many as 30 or more states will begin to reopen their economies over the next week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a guidance document to help businesses, schools, churches, mass transit and other organizations reopen safely.

The stay-at-home order from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer does not infringe on the constitutional rights of citizens, the state’s Court of Claims has ruled. In making the ruling, Judge Christopher M. Murray noted that “liberty interests are, and always have been, subject to society's interests — society being our fellow residents.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered beaches in Orange County closed in the face of evidence that thousands of residents who visited them last weekend ignored the state’s social distancing guidelines. Huntington Beach has announced that it will sue the state over the closure. Meanwhile officials in Modoc County have notified the governor that they plan to defy the state’s current guidelines and reopen businesses.

Updated: Thursday, April 30

A recent survey found that 80 percent of Americans say they will stay at home even if restrictions are lifted, at least until they are convinced that it’s safe to go out. Ninety percent do not support recent protests against stay-at-home guidelines.

Similarly, a number of mayors in states poised to reopen have pushed back against any rapid lifting of restrictions. This mirrors the aversion that governors expressed to the suggestion that they should move at a pace set by the federal government.

Testing is the only way for citizens or government officials to really know what they are facing. The guidelines for the first phase of the White House “Opening up America” plan include a two-week downward trajectories in flu-like illnesses, documented COVID-19 cases and a percentage of positive tests. Nothing is specified regarding the quantity of tests, though a “robust testing program for at-risk healthcare workers” is mentioned. 

report produced by 45 cross-disciplinary experts, just released by Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, says that in order to reopen its economy by the summer, the U.S. would need to be doing 5 million tests a day by early June and 20 million by midsummer. This, they say, would be sufficient to identify those who are infected, locate their contacts and test them and isolate persons who test positive. They estimate 100,000 workers would be needed for this task.

Sufficient testing would open the door to truly effective contact tracing, which has played a significant role in South Korea’s uniquely effective response to the pandemic. These efforts will be greatly enhanced by software that Apple and Google are currently developing for iPhones and Android devices. Policymakers will need to be prepared to respond to those who see contact tracing as government intrusion in their personal lives.

Awareness of the true size of the contagion and its spread is also relevant to projecting whether proposals for easing restrictions could cost more than the potential economic gains. If coming back without a detailed plan means illness rates surge again, that means more shutdowns, more lost work, more medical costs and less productivity and spending. A new analysis from economists at the University of Wyoming estimated that the value of lives saved through distancing was almost $3.4 trillion greater than the GDP lost by implementing such measures.

Although there have been suggestions that the economic downturn is itself a health risk, researchers who studied previous economic disasters discovered, to their surprise, that death rates have decreased during economic catastrophes such as the Great Depression. In fact, life expectancy increased in Greece and Spain during the recession following the 2008 economic collapse, even though the two country’s economies had been devastated. All in all, the researchers found that it is prosperity that increases death rates.

Some guidelines may have broad appeal, but are limited in value. Taking temperatures has the potential to prevent some infected persons from coming into contact with others, but according to CDC Director Redfield as many as 25 percent of persons infected with the coronavirus are asymptomatic. Guidelines that limit special protections for “at risk” populations to senior citizens do not protect smokers, or those with asthma, heart disease, diabetes and other high-risk conditions.

The interplay between constitutional rights, public health and internationally accepted human rights standards also deserves attention. An individual citizen’s decision to opt out of a public health best practice during a pandemic does not fit easily with fundamental human rights or religious concepts. Such a choice could never be forbidden, but it might not deserve to be elevated above other social or policy considerations.

Protestors have announced plans to gather Friday in Chicago to urge more aggressive moves to open the economy. Mayor Lori Lightfoot remains cautious. “I’m very mindful of what’s happening in other states that haven’t taken the steps that we have taken here in Illinois,” the mayor said. “We’re seeing a doubling of cases at an unbelievable rate, even six weeks into this crisis.”

Even though the number of new cases continues to rise, Illinois Governor J.B. Priztker is also under siege from multiple lawsuits charging that his stay-at-home orders are harming citizens and violating their civil rights."This callous disregard for science, reason, and the value of human life will be settled by the courts," said his press secretary.

Unemployed workers face a new dilemma as states begin to reopen. If they decide not to return to work because they do not believe they will be safe, they may become ineligible for benefits that are just beginning to arrive.“It’s not fair for them to be asked to choose between their income and their health,” says a former director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

About half of company-owned Starbucks stores in the U.S. have closed since March. The company has announced that 90 percent will reopen by early June. Seating will be closed, but “pick up and go” service will be available to customers who pre-order with the Starbucks app.

Updated: Wednesday, April 29

On Monday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued a memo directing the assistant attorney general for civil rights to monitor state and local policies regarding virus response and “if necessary, take action to correct them.” In making the request, he states that the Constitution forbids “undue interference with the national economy.”

According to a new analysis by researchers at Harvard, less than half of the states in the U.S. are doing enough testing to have an accurate picture of infection rates. A number of states that have already reopened are testing at rates significantly below those researchers believe would be needed by May 1 to relax stay at home orders.

Attempting to fill what they see as a gap in federal leadership, House Democrats announced a “science-based” plan to guide state planning, the Reopen America Act. The bill’s author, Rep. Jamie Raskin, says that “we've not spent nearly enough energy, time, resources or thinking on how we're actually going to reopen commerce, education and social life.”

Scientists at London’s Imperial College have proposed an alternative to an all-or-nothing approach to keeping citizens at home. Their suggestion: alternating periods when shelter at home requirements are relaxed with periods during which they are reinstated if monitoring shows cases are on the rise, to help develop herd immunity before a vaccine is available.

Need a better reason to stay home? Two economists suggest that governments could incentivize citizen participation in shelter-in-place programs by subsidizing jobs that can be done from home, online education and access to Web-streamed entertainment.

Updated: Monday, April 27

The Texas Tribune reports that Gov. Greg Abbott has authorized the reopening of a number of businesses in the state. Beginning this Friday, retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls can all reopen but are not required to. Under the new rules, they will only be allowed to operate at 25 percent of their capacity for the first couple of weeks. If those two weeks pass without a flare-up of COVID-19, the capacity constraints would increase to 50 percent, and extend to barbershops, hair salons, bars and gyms.

Colorado and Nevada are joining Washington, Oregon and California in the Western States Pact — a working group of Western state governors with a shared vision for modifying stay at home orders and fighting COVID-19. "In Washington state, our decisions are guided by public health data and science and this is a principle we share up and down the West Coast. Governor Jared Polis (Colorado) and Governor Steve Sisolak (Nevada) are taking that approach as well, and the addition of their states will strengthen this regional partnership and save lives," Washington State Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Inslee, along with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, announced they would be working together under a shared vision for gradually modifying their state’s stay-at-home orders and fighting COVID-19.

On April 26, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued an Executive Order with a phased plan for reopening businesses in his state. “We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of the virus and must find a way of living that is psychologically and economically sustainable for Coloradans,” he said. Details below.

Thousands of protestors gathered in the Wisconsin capital on Friday, April 24, to express their disagreement with the Democratic governor’s extension of “safer at home” guidelines, one of the largest such gatherings to date. The governor announced guidelines would be eased beginning Monday, April 27. Details below.

The National Governors Association has published a “Roadmap to Recovery,” outlining public health considerations that can guide plans to reopen states. Strategies including expanding testing, strengthening public health surveillance, contact tracing and assessing the readiness of health-care systems to respond to new surges in cases are discussed in detail.

Former health officials from Republican and Democratic administrations have asked Congress to provide $46 billion in stimulus money to support contact tracing and self-isolation. The majority of the money, $30 billion, would be used to pay a $50-per-day stipend to those who voluntarily self-isolate.

The CDC has added six new symptoms to the list of things that might indicate a person has been infected by the COVID-19 virus: chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. Expanding the list will enable persons who present with these symptoms to be eligible to be tested for the virus.

A theory that radiation from 5G towers weakens the immune system and increases coronavirus infection rates has caught fire in the UK, leading to the arrest of arsonists who burned towers. Some believe that an actual conspiracy exists, pointing to graphic elements on a new £20 note that they believe resemble a 5G tower and the virus itself.

  • Washington State - Gov. Jay Inslee announced on April 24 that some commercial construction projects will be allowed to resume. The move comes after weeks of negotiation among the governor’s office, the construction industry and organized labor to finalize a 30-point plan to make sure construction sites can operate safely amid the new coronavirus once those projects are cleared to resume. The resumption will be for “low-risk” projects on a date still to be determined.
  • The manufacturer of Lysol has urged Americans not to ingest or inject its cleaning products, following speculation in a coronairus briefing that this should be studied as a possible treatment for coronavirus. 
  • The Food and Drug Administration warned against taking the anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine after reports of serious poisonings and death. A study of chloroquine was recently cut short by researchers who found that the primary outcome of the treatment was “lethality.”
  • The mayor of Georgia’s largest city is not pleased with her Governor’s “deadly” decision to reopen the state, observing that “the economy is something that concerns those who are amongst the living." She cites strategies such as small business loans, eviction stays and debt relief as most appropriate at this time.
  • Bill Gates believes that a vaccine could be available on the “optimistic” timeline of 18-24 months, rather than the five years that is sometimes required. While some countries have decided to orchestrate testing at the national level, he describes the approach in the U.S. as “chaotic.”
  • Hamptonites who subscribe to concierge medical services can receive an at home coronavirus test for a $1000 house-call fee. Some are gladly paying as much as $5,000 to have testers in “spacesuits” come to their homes for diagnostic and antibody tests.
  • Georgia – Although its shelter-in-place order remains in effect until April 30, the governor of Georgia announced that businesses including gyms, barbers, cosmetologists and massage therapists would be allowed to reopen Friday, April 24, with theatres and restaurants following on April 27.
  • Oklahoma – The governor of Oklahoma announced that personal care businesses will be allowed to reopen on April 24, with allowances for other businesses on May 1. Parks and recreation areas will reopen on the 24th.
  • Unemployment applications may have reached their peak. Last week, 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment, down from 5.2 million the week before. In previous weeks, claims had topped 6 million.

Carl Smith is a senior staff writer for Governing and covers a broad range of issues affecting states and localities. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @governingwriter.
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