Lawmakers across the country have already begun to ease coronavirus restrictions

By Julie Mazziotta and Maria Pasquini
Updated May 15, 2020 02:52 PM
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Credit: Martin Schwartz

As the United States continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, legislators throughout the country are beginning to lift restrictions.

While the exact details of these measures vary by location, as of May 15, nearly every state has begun easing restrictions and the majority have largely begun to reopen, despite warnings from health officials.

As President Donald Trump and his coronavirus task force did not institute a national stay at home order as other countries with major outbreaks have done, the decisions has been left up to individual states.

As of May 15, the governors of 33 states have decided to move forward with a partial reopening. Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas were among the first to begin the process, with statewide restrictions expiring last month.

Stay-at-home orders have also expired in Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Rhode Island, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Although some restrictions do remain in place, several businesses — including salons, gyms, retail stores, and golf courses — have been allowed to reopen with precautions.

Although statewide orders currently remain in place in Arizona, Hawaii, Maine, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the majority are expiring by the end of the month and the process of reopening has already begun.

Soon to join are Oregon, New Mexico, Minnesota, Louisiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, which are all set to begin reopening next week.

Wisconsin is the only state to see their stay-at-home order struck down by their state’s Supreme Court.

On May 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released six checklists to help restaurants and bars, workplaces and child care programs decide when it’s safe to reopen. Much of the advice is focused on making sure proper hygiene and social distancing protocols are in place. The White House rejected a previous iteration of the guidelines, which included more detailed advice, according to the The New York Times.

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As of May 15, there are only 8 states that still have the majority of restrictions in place: California, which was the first state to implement a stay-at-home order, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Washington.

However, restrictions in these states have also begun to relax.

Even as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a stay-at-home order extension through June for several regions, including New York City, he noted that some state beaches will be allowed to reopen in time for Memorial Day, although social distancing guidelines will still need to be followed.

Emphasizing that individuals will still need to be vigilant to prevent the slow of the virus, he noted, “What happens next is up to each of us.”

“This virus is powerful and every time we think we understand it we learn we don’t. Government alone can’t keep you safe,” he added on Twitter. “It’s up to you.”

As of May 15, there are at least 1,376,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and 82,355 people have died.

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