Months after the coronavirus pandemic caused businesses to shut down and confined people to their homes, the discussion to reopen cities and resurge local economies began to grasp everyone's attention. Despite advice from healthcare officials, some local governments have already decided to open cities in places like Georgia and South Carolina. In those places, everywhere from movie theaters to gardening stores to tattoo shops and hair salons will be open for business, though still enforcing some social distancing measures, according to Governors' announcements. Now, as these states paint a picture for how businesses will start to reopen and operate across the country, the question remains, which businesses will open first?
According to governors across the country, each state's plan to reopen businesses will vary, but all are looking at low-risk businesses — like ones that primarily function in open spaces — to be the first ones back in action. This could include construction, outdoor activities, or outdoor shops. States on the West Coast may not open at the same time as states on the East Coast, and Middle America may be on a completely different schedule. New plans to reopen, which are being unfolded in the coming weeks, include the blueprints for how cities will operate once stay-at-home orders are lifted.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose stay-at-home order is set to expire on May 15, announced on Sunday during his daily coronavirus briefing that businesses will reopen in the state in phases and by region, though no official date was given. He specified phase one as being “construction and manufacturing activities... those businesses that have a low risk.” According to Cuomo's announcement, phase two would individually examine types of businesses.
Meanwhile, highly-affected states like Michigan, California, and New Jersey, some of which made headlines after residents protested stay-at-home orders, have already begun slowly reopening businesses. Michigan is allowing outdoor activities like boating and fishing to commence, while the Calfornia Gov. Gavin Newsom and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy haven't shed as many details on their plans to reopen, other than implementing a similar phasing system for businesses.
Despite the slow roll that some states are taking, others are going full speed ahead into opening their economies. Georgia and Florida were among the first states to get the ball rolling on reopening businesses to get their economy going again. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp reopened movie theaters on April 27, following Friday’s reopening of hair salons, barbershops, and gyms. Florida beaches — many of which remained open long after other U.S. beaches shut down after social distancing was put in place — are reopening in certain counties, but with restrictions like shorter hours and small group numbers. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster began reopening his the state on April 20, though businesses are only operating with a fraction of customers to keep social distancing guidelines in place.
With stay-at-home orders being lifted, it’s all a matter of when we will see state economies running with some semblance of normalcy again. Although we can estimate some businesses to open before others, the picture of how life after the pandemic will work remains unclear.