President Donald Trump has further backed away from his claim of having ‘total’ authority on when to reopen the country, telling governors on a conference call the decision rests with them.
The president made the statement as the White House released a three-phase plan for when people can return to work school and a semblance of normal life – absent dates or clarity about how and when it would occur.
Notably missing from the plan are metrics about what level of testing must be reached, or what will constitute a sufficiently leveled ‘curve’ of deaths or infections to trigger moving up the scale.
KEEP ON TRUCKING: President Donald Trump told governors it is up to them when to reopen their states, as the White House released new guidelines for a phased reopening
The guidelines recommend states be on a ‘downward trajectory’ to move forward through the phases, Bloomberg News reported.
It will be up to the governors to decide when to reopen, the president acknowledged, days after saying he had ‘absolute power’ on the subject and getting pushback.
‘You are going to call your own shots,’ Trump said, a source told CNN.
PHASE ONE: Keep hunkering down , but go back to work in phases
PHASE TWO: No break room, but non-essential travel is back. ‘Moderate’ distancing at the movie theater
PHASE THREE: Grandma visits are allowed. ‘Limited distancing’ at restaurants and movie theaters
The first phase would have schools remain closed, with strict guidelines for restaurants and other places where people usually gather.
During Phase One, vulnerable people should still ‘shelter in place, while people should still practice social distancing in public and avoid groups of 10 or more. Businesses should close common areas and avoid non-essential travel. Schools remain closed, and movie theaters and churches are under strict physical distancing. Bars are closed.
By Phase Two, individuals are still to maximize social distancing, and should avoid groups of more than 50. As the situation improves, workers who are not symptomatic could return to their jobs.
Non-essential work travel can resume. Schools and daycare can reopen. Sit-down dining can operate under ‘moderate’ distancing guidelines, and gyms can open. Bars should have ‘diminished standing-room capacity.’
Only by Phase Three is there ‘unrestricted’ staffing at worksites. People can go to senior care facilities to visit their elderly relatives. Nursing homes which have become hotspots for the virus taking the lives of vulnerable populations. Large venues scan operate under limited physical distancing. Gyms and bars can open with ‘increased standing room.’
The plan conforms with Trump’s stated goal to get the U.S. economy moving again, with some states potentially opening before current guidelines run out at the end of the month.
The document puts some of the key burdens in the hands of the states, who it says should have the ‘ability to quickly set up safe and efficient screening and testing sites,’ as well as have ‘quickly and independently supply sufficient Personal Protective Equipment.’
Trump has bristled at the notion that the federal government should first implement widespread nationwide testing before reopening, and has said it should be up to states to get needed equipment, even while the administration rushed in March to secure millions of masks and other protective gear.