Weary of coronavirus lockdowns and keenly aware of the fact that their citizens are growing frustrated over job losses, an increasing number of states are slowly, steadily reopening.
As reported by Fox News, three states — Tennessee, Montana, and Mississippi — planned to reopen part of their economies on Monday after the federal government issued new health guidelines and other states relaxed COVID restrictions:
The moves to reopen follow in the steps of Georgia, Oklahoma, and Alaska, which on Friday began loosening lockdown restrictions on businesses despite health officials warning the gradual return to daily life might be happening too soon.
Officials in Tennessee said infection rates in the state have remained steady for two weeks after an increase in testing. Gov. Bill Lee’s office noted in a press release that he lifted seating restrictions in restaurants, allowing eateries in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to begin serving indoors at 50 percent capacity.
On Wednesday, retailers are planning to reopen under the same guidelines, as workers in both industries are being asked to wear masks or facial coverings and follow federal guidelines regarding personal hygiene under what’s being called the “Tennessee Pledge.”
“Like the rest of the country, Tennessee has taken an unprecedented economic hit with families and small businesses feeling the most pain,” the GOP governor said. “We must stay vigilant as a state, continue to practice social distancing, and engage in best practices at our businesses so that we can stay open.”
Six counties — Davidson, Shelby, Knox, Madison, Hamilton, and Sullivan — operate their own health agencies and have decided to wait longer to reopen, The Tennessean reported.
Meanwhile, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a “Safer at Home” executive order Friday that allows most retailers to open at 50 percent capacity. However, hair salons and gyms will not be allowed to reopen. Movie theaters and museums will also remain closed, but restaurants can resume operations with take-out service only.
“Wall Street and Hollywood will be fine,” the Republican governor wrote in part of a lengthy statement on Facebook. “Mississippi small businesses and workers are not. That’s who has been asked to shoulder the country’s burden. It’s not fair, and it’s not right. We have to safely, quickly re-open. That’s what we’re starting to do.”
In Montana, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock allowed retailers to reopen, with bars, restaurants, and casinos becoming eligible to reopen May 4. The state began its reopening process by allowing churchgoers to attend services on Sunday after a month-long hiatus. But gyms, pools, movie theaters, and bowling alleys, however, will remain closed.
Fox News noted further:
The slow restart to normalcy in the trio of states comes just days after Republican governors in Georgia and Oklahoma allowed salons, spas, and barbershops to reopen despite the White House’s recommendations for how soon states should get back up and running.
After being criticized by President Trump, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp wrote on Twitter: “I appreciate his bold leadership and insight during these difficult times and the framework provided by the White House to safely move states forward. Our next measured step is driven by data and guided by state public health officials. We will continue with this approach to protect the lives – and livelihoods – of all Georgians.”
And on “Fox News Sunday,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt defended his decision to reopen ‘early.’
“I can’t speak to what’s happening in other states, but in my state, we’re seeing the trending going down, our testing going up, our tracing, we put 80 different testing sites up, we’ve tested over 55,000 folks, our positive tests right now are 6.3 percent, and again 300 hospitalized cases across the state with a capacity for 4,600, we think it’s a reasonable time to reopen,” he said.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has also lifted some restrictions.
The moves are being well-received on Wall Street. Newsmax reported:
U.S. stock markets jumped more than 1% on Monday as more states prepared to ease stay-at-home orders and investors geared up for one of the busiest weeks of quarterly earnings reports, including from tech titans Apple and Microsoft.