Ohio Will Begin Reopening Businesses in Phases Starting May 1 As States Plan Lifting Coronavirus Restrictions

Republican Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Thursday that he was looking at plans to reopen businesses in the state in phases on May 1 even as the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. continues, with some states extending stay-at-home orders or forming alliances to determine the best time to reopen.

President Donald Trump has expressed his desire to reopen businesses in the U.S. but has said that that will happen at the discretion of state governors.

"Our country has to get open and it will get open," Trump said during a Tuesday news conference, "and it'll get open safely and hopefully quickly—some areas quicker than other areas."

But some fear opening the U.S. too early may lead to another round of new coronavirus cases. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a Thursday conference call that it would be "the greater of two evils to open up the economy in a way that is not science-based, that isn't based on the health and the well-being of the American people."

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn told ABC News that the May 1 date may not be a realistic goal.

"It's a target and, obviously, we're hopeful about that target," Hahn said Sunday, "but I think it's just too early to be able to tell that we see light at the end of the tunnel. I think it's just too early for us to say whether May 1 is that date."

Governor DeWine tweeted Thursday that his plan for reopening the state will be "gradual."

"Beginning May 1st, the state will begin a phased-in reopening of the state economy," Governor DeWine's office said in a statement sent to Newsweek. "The plan will be fact-driven over a long period of time to minimize the health risk to business owners, employees, and their customers."

"Ohioans have done a great job," DeWine said at a Thursday news briefing. "You have all done a phenomenal job. You have, it would appear, flattened the curve."

DeWine outlined some potential guidelines for coronavirus mitigation in the workplace, including regular checks of personal protection equipment stock, mandatory face masks and physical distancing of six feet.

"We've got a lot more work to do between now and May 1 because we want to get this right," DeWine said.

According to data from DeWine's office, there are "8,414 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 389 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 2,331 people have been hospitalized, including 707 admissions to intensive care units."

mike dewine
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced plans Thursday to begin reopening businesses in his state on May 1. Justin Merriman/Getty

Other states have not set a deadline for reopening yet, choosing instead to form cooperative pacts to decide what the right time to loosen coronavirus restrictions would be.

In the midwest, the governors of Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky have banded together.

"Here in the Midwest, we are bound by our commitment to our people and the community," the governors said in a joint statement Thursday. "We recognize that our economies are all reliant on each other, and we must work together to safely reopen them so hardworking people can get back to work and businesses can get back on their feet."

New York and New Jersey, two of the states most impacted by coronavirus, are also considering when they can reopen. Along with Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island, state governments have created a multi-state council to plan a gradual reopening.

"Now it is time to start opening the valve slowly and carefully while watching the infection rate meter so we don't trigger a second wave of new infections," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a joint statement Tuesday. "This is not a light switch that we can just flick on and everything goes back to normal."

However, Delaware's stay at home orders are expected to last until at least May 15 or "until the public health threat is eliminated."

"We still have a situation in Delaware that is getting worse," Delaware Governor John Carney said in a Tuesday statement. "Infections of COVID-19 and hospitalizations are rising."

"At the same time, we need to look forward," Carney continued. "We need a consistent approach for moving our states out of this crisis, when that day comes."

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts