As some parts of the country enter their sixth week under mandatory shelter-in-place orders, others, after just three weeks, are deciding to lift some restrictions.
Georgia (who’s governor only learned three weeks ago that asymptomatic people can spread the coronavirus) will loosen restrictions, allowing certain businesses, namely gyms, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors and bowling alleys, to reopen on Friday. The mayors of large cities, including Atlanta and Savannah, strongly objected to the governor's decision, but cities and counties can not block the statewide order. South Carolina allowed retail and department stores to open on Tuesday (albeit at 20% capacity), as well as beaches. Tennessee will let their stay-at-home order expire at the end of this month (Nashville’s mayor intends to extend his city’s order).
And yet, none of these states meet the 14 days of sustained decrease in coronavirus cases mandated by the White House’s guidelines on when to reopen.
These state openings come as ‘Reopen’ protests have raged from coast to coast, calling on their respective governor’s to reopen their states’ non-essential businesses. Just a day after releasing guidelines on how to reopen the country’s economy, President Donald Trump called on supporters to “liberate” states under coronavirus lockdown orders, specifically naming Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia — all states under Democratic governors that are expected to be close contests in November. Across the country, 8 in 10 Americans support shelter-in-place orders.
Several American cities and counties are allowing non-essential businesses to open, ranging from golf courses to ski resorts. But even as states and individual counties begin to relax stay-at-home measures, the question remains: will people actually feel comfortable returning to how things used to be?
The answer will be seen shortly, but it’s unlikely to be enough to revamp the economy. Restaurants had already seen a decline in customers before the instatement of shelter-in-place orders and other industries won’t truly start seeing customers again until Americans feel safe. Relaxing measures isn’t going to make people suddenly start traveling again, leaving airlines, hotels and more in limbo — only 14% of the public says they’re likely to start flying as soon as restrictions are lifted — and people won’t start buying larger items until they feel more secure in their own financial situation.
The economic effects will persist even after states lift restrictions. In South Carolina, residents largely avoided going out to non-essential businesses despite some restrictions being lifted.Meanwhile, other states are taking the opposite approach and extending their stay-at-home orders. At least three multi-state pacts (the Western States Pact, the Midwestern Coalition, and the East Coast’s Multi-State Coalition) have been made between governors to coordinate reopening measures.
Article thumbnail: The White House / Public domain