President Trump’s plan for reopening the economy – and how it affects Virginia

After weeks of discussion, President Donald Trump outlined the path for the United States to begin reopening its economy in an afternoon press conference Thursday, April 16. 

What are the steps in the plan?

The plan operates in three phases and it is entirely up to individual state governors to decide how to open the states up. Phase one possesses many of the same restrictions Americans have lived under, but it allows for businesses with large venues to resume operations as long as social distancing is enforced. Notable operations that would be allowed to reopen include restaurants, movie theaters and places of worship.

There must be 14 consecutive days of declining coronavirus cases and proper medical equipment available for treatment before phase one is implemented, according to the White House website. President Trump acknowledges that this plan will allow some states to recover more quickly  than others.

“We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time,” President Trump said in the press conference. “And some states will be able to open sooner than others. Now that we have passed the peak in new cases, we are starting our life again. We are starting to rejuvenate our economy again.” 

Phase two allows non-essential travel to resume and lets most businesses begin operating again. Schools, bars and elective surgeries are all reintroduced in this phase, with social distancing measures in place. Visiting senior care facilities and hospitals are still prohibited in this phase.

Phase three lifts most restrictions. Businesses return to unrestricted staffing, and visits to medical facilities are allowed once again. Businesses are still encouraged to implement minor social distancing.

Throughout all three phases, avoiding crowded environments is encouraged as states continue to fight to minimize cases.

“The predominant and completely driving element that we put into this was the safety and the health of the American public,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in the press conference. “And I know there are a lot of other considerations, but the dominating drive was making sure this was done in the safest way possible.”

What this means for Virginia

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam spoke to residents of the commonwealth Friday, April 24, to announce the forming of a task force to determine when the state may be able to reopen, according to WTTG.

Northam stated the desire to reopen non-essential businesses after May 8 but cited the need for a reduction in cases, more hospital beds and increased intensive care capacity. Northam and President Trump previously disagreed on the amount of testing available in states.

“If we can get a little bit of help out there with our numbers, I would really like to see us be able to go into phase one as soon as May 8 but certainly no sooner than that,” Northam said in the press conference.

The press conference followed Virginia House Republicans urging Northam to consider reopening non-essential businesses before it is too late, according to WTTG. Northam remains steadfast about opening businesses when there is no doubt that it is safe to do so. 

“As I’ve said before, we cannot and will not lift restrictions the way you turn on a light switch,” Northam said per WSLS. “We will do it responsibly and deliberately and it has to be grounded in data.”

For now, Virginia is under a stay-at-home order until June 10 as it waits out the clock to enter into phase one as important events continue to be postponed.

Ben Craft is the Asst. News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @craftybenjamin

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