A road map for recovering from the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic has been given to states governors by President Donald Trump, laying out “a phased and deliberate approach” to restoring normal activity in places that have strong testing and are seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases.

The President's guidelines make clear that the return to normalcy will be a far longer process than initially envisioned, with federal officials warning that some social distancing measures may need to remain in place through the end of the year to prevent a new outbreak.

Phase #1:

Schools and organized youth activities that are currently closed, such as daycare, should remain closed. The guidance also says that bars should remain closed. However, larger venues such as movie theaters, churches, ballparks, and arenas can operate but under strict distancing protocols. If possible, employers should have workers return to the job in phases.

Vulnerable individuals such as elderly people and those with underlying health conditions should continue to shelter in place. Individuals who do go out should avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 people in places that don’t provide appropriate physical distancing. The guidelines also recommend minimizing nonessential travel.

Phase #2:

Nonessential travel can resume, however, all vulnerable individuals should continue to shelter in place. When people go out in public, they should avoid social settings with more than 50 people when appropriate physical distancing is not practical. Employers are asked to continue to encourage telework when possible and to close common areas where personnel are likely to congregate or they should enforce “moderate social distancing protocols.” Schools and daycare can reopen. Bars may open but should leave less room for people to stand around when possible.

Phase #3:

Vulnerable individuals can resume going out in public but should practice physical distancing. Visits to senior care centers and hospitals can also resume, though those who interact with residents and patients must remain diligent about following good hygiene practices, namely washing their hands frequently. Meanwhile, low-risk populations should consider minimizing time spent in crowded environments. Employers can resume unrestricted staffing of worksites.

There is no set timeline for moving through each of the three phases. That will be up to the governors. However, before a state or region moves on to the next phase, it would have to experience another 14-day decline in documented cases.

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