President Donald Trump introduced guidelines for a three-phase plan to get the economy back on track after the coronavirus pandemic during a press conference on Thursday.
Scientists and medical experts helped create the guidelines, called "Opening Up America Again," which the Associated Press obtained before their public release. They advise states, individuals and employers on how to gradually transition back to normal routines. The Trump administration says the phased reopening shouldn't start until there's a two-week downward trajectory of new COVID-19 cases and strong testing programs in place, among other conditions.
Each of the three phases would last at least 14 days, but there's no firm timeline.
Phase One recommends that vulnerable individuals continue to shelter in place. People who do go out should follow social distancing guidelines, keep gatherings to no more than 10 people and limit nonessential travel. Gyms, movie theaters, restaurants, sporting venues and places of worship would be advised to operate under strict physical distancing guidelines. Meanwhile, bars and schools would remain closed.
Phase Two would allow nonessential travel to resume and bars to operate with limited occupancies. Employers would be encouraged to continue telework, if possible. Elective surgeries could resume and schools would be able to open again. Large venues could loosen distancing guidelines to a more moderate scale.
Finally, in Phase Three, vulnerable individuals could go back to public interactions, but still practice social distancing. Visits to senior care facilities and hospitals could resume. People at low risk from the virus would still be encouraged to limit their time around crowds, but employers could resume unrestricted staffing at workplaces.
President Trump told governors it'll be up to them to decide when it's safe to start Phase One.
"Governors will be empowered to tailor an approach that meets the diverse circumstances of their own states. Every state is very different."
He said there will be continued challenges, but these guidelines will be "powerful weapons" to ensure the country is up and running and prepared for any future outbreaks.
Nearly 100 Republican and Democratic lawmakers make up a new bipartisan committee called the Opening Up America Again Congressional Group. The White House said the committee will "provide counsel to the president on the reopening of America in the wake of COVID-19."
"This is not about parties, this is about our country," President Trump said. "Together we will rebuild this land that we love, we will reclaim the magnificent destiny that we share and we will carry our nation forward to great heights of greatness and glory."
Additional reporting by Zeke Miller, Alan Suderman and Kevin Freking with the Associated Press.