President Donald Trump has revealed guidelines to help reopen much of the U.S. following several weeks of social distancing that has led to countless businesses and institutions being temporarily shuttered. The guidelines, which were shared with all 50 state governors in a phone call, will be strictly voluntary, according to CNN.
"You are going to call your own shots," Trump said in the call. "I've gotten to know almost all of you, most of you I've known and some very well. You are all very capable people, I think in all cases, very capable people. And you're going to be calling your shots."
The guidelines themselves are presented as a three-phase approach, which will involve easing restrictions based on specific case counts and the care facility capacity. For example, the first phase is marked by a sustained decrease in cases over 14-days, along with "pre-crisis conditions" in hospitals. They also make clear that each state has the "ability to quickly set up safe and efficient screening and testing sites," as well as "quickly and independently supply sufficient Personal Protective Equipment."
The first phase also recommends keeping public schools closed and maintaining options to telecommute wherever possible. Larger businesses would be allowed to operate under strict social distancing protocols, such as gyms and some restaurants. Though shelter-in-place would still be encouraged wherever possible, particularly for those in the most at-risk categories for COVID-19.
The second and third phase further reduces the restrictions based on the reported number of active cases in the respective state. It's also a noticeable reversal from Trump's prior remarks that his "authority is total" as president, which drew the ire of the internet. Several governors have already extended the current social distancing guidelines through May, as well as organized themselves into multiple regional collectives to set their own schedule as far as reopening. On Thursday, both Democrat and Republic governors from across the Midwest marked the latest coalition.
Currently, the federal social distancing guidelines are in place through April, which is done to help slow the spread of coronavirus. However, the adverse impact has been significant, with several million people applying for unemployment, creating massive backlogs in paperwork and delayed checks. The government also pushed through a $2 trillion aid package, though the $350 billion intended to help small businesses ended up running dry just days after its creation.