Re-opening the Economy: Three Phases to Bring Back Business

As we begin to look beyond the coronavirus economic lockdown, the government gave us a plan to end lockdowns and stay-at-home orders within the next few months. President Trump has provided governors with a three-phase program intended to safely revive America’s economy, which is called “Opening Up America Again.” 

State governors are not required to follow President Trump’s guidelines, as the power to reopen states falls under each governor’s jurisdiction. Some states have decided to work together to create their specific plan for reopening their state economies — for example, California, Oregon, and Washington have agreed to work together on their reopening approach. 

President Trump’s most recent plan is based on available data and the need to protect people who are most likely to contract COVID-19. Based on his most recent statement, states to be considered for reopening must show a decrease in “influenza-like illnesses and COVID-19 syndromic cases reported within 14 days,” a reduction in documented cases and positive tests within that same period, and the operation of hospitals with a testing program in place for workers. 

Once a state has met these criteria, President Trump recommends the governors begin implementing the following three-phase program:

Phase One

As states begin to enter into phase one, social distancing will remain in public places, and gatherings of 10 or more people are discouraged. Non-essential travel should stay at a minimum.

Individuals who are higher risk should continue to quarantine at home — these higher-risk individuals include adults over the age of 60, those with underlying health conditions, and immune-compromised individuals. Anyone who lives with these higher-risk individuals should be acutely aware of the potential risks of going back to work and contracting COVID-19. 

Work-from-home should still be encouraged by employers who can make that possible. As employers return to work, there should be phases implemented, with particular consideration for more vulnerable employees. 

What businesses can open during phase one?

Schools, daycare centers, and camps will remain closed. People visiting senior living homes and hospitals will stay prohibited. 

Dine-in restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues, and other large venues may reopen with social distancing protocols in place. 

Gyms can reopen with strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols in place. 

Bars should remain closed during this phase.

Elective surgeries can resume at facilities that follow the CMS guidelines.

Phase Two

As we move into phase two of the three-part reopening of the economy, the vulnerable populations should still stay home. All individuals should keep social distancing protocols in practice, but individuals can begin going into social settings of 50 people or fewer. Travel that is deemed non-essential can resume with certain precautions.

As was required in phase one, employers should continue to encourage their employees to work remotely if possible. As employees begin coming back into the office, it is recommended to keep common areas closed and continue to make adjustments for those individuals who are higher-risk. 

Schools, daycare centers, and camps can reopen in this phase. Similar to the requirements in phase one, all of these businesses can operate only at reduced standing-room capacity. 

Phase Three

The last phase of reopening the economy allows vulnerable populations to leave their homes. Still, they should keep social distancing protocols in place and limit any social settings where social distancing may not be possible. 

Employers can allow their employees to return to the workplace. This phase also provides for the reopening of common areas, but we recommend business owners continue to be considerate of social distancing protocols for higher-risk individuals. 

Senior care facilities and hospital visits are allowed to resume. The large venues mentioned above can begin operating with limited physical distancing protocols. Bars and restaurants can start to run closer to their standard occupancy rates.

There are a few things all of us must consider throughout all of these phases: Maintain good hygiene practices, always! Wash your hands thoroughly, avoid touching your face, disinfect items that you use frequently, and use face coverings when in crowded social settings. 

If you begin to feel sick — stay home and contact your doctor.

As employers, some things should be implemented as employees begin to come back to work. Social distancing protocols are of the utmost importance as well as providing protective equipment for employees. Implementing temperature checks and consistent sanitation practices will be beneficial to all in the workplace. 

As an employer, there is a greater responsibility for the safety of your employees, try to be considerate of all employees’ needs during this uncertain time.

For more information on how to be best prepared for the reopening of the economy, visit www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica.

As far as funding to support the reopening of your business, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center to see how you can prepare for the future of your company.

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