Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: May 12, 2020

This is our daily update on how federal, state, and local officials are planning to set America on a path to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Each day, we:

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What is reopening in the next few days? Which stay-at-home orders will expire?

May 13

  • California (Democratic trifecta): Beaches in Los Angeles County will reopen. Permitted activities include running, walking, swimming, and surfing. Group sports, picnicking, and sunbathing are prohibited. Face coverings are mandatory for individuals on the sand but not individuals in the water.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) will hold a press conference to discuss changes to the business restrictions that are set to expire on May 15. The press conference was originally scheduled for today but was delayed.
  • Utah (Republican trifecta): Zion National Park is scheduled to open Wednesday, May 13, though services like the shuttle and the visitors center will not be available. Some attractions, such as Angels Landing and the campgrounds, will also be closed to visitors.

May 15

  • Stay-at-home orders are set to expire in seven states: Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Vermont. Arizona is a Republica trifecta. Delaware, Nevada, New Mexico, and New York are Democratic trifectas. Louisiana and Vermont are under divided government.
    • They will be 17th through 23rd in the list of states where stay-at-home orders have expired.
    • Of the 16 states where stay-at-home orders have already expired, 12 have Republican governors and four have Democratic governors.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that some parts of the state can reopen on May 15. Three regions—Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, and Mohawk Valley—meet the criteria in the state’s reopening plan. In Phase 1 of the state’s reopening plan, construction, manufacturing and wholesale supply chains, agriculture, forestry, and fishing can resume, and retail can open for curbside pickup.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): Outdoor dining at restaurants and bars, and personal services such as salons and barbershops, are scheduled to reopen on May 15.
  • Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): Under Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, bars can reopen with diminished standing room capacity and social distancing measures, organized sports activities may resume, funerals and weddings may resume with social distancing measures, and childcare areas in places of worship can reopen, effective May 15.

Since our last edition

Have any states opened? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here. For our last edition, click here.

  • Louisiana (divided government): Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) unveiled the “Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana” reopening plan. The first phase takes effect on May 15, when the stay-at-home order expires. The following businesses will be permitted to reopen at 25% capacity effective May 15: gyms and fitness centers; barbershops and hair/nail salons; gaming establishments; theaters; racetracks (no spectators); museums, zoos, and aquariums (no tactile exhibits); and bars and breweries with food permits. Individuals, particularly those in high-risk groups, will still be encouraged to stay home. Individuals who do go out in public will be encouraged to wear facial coverings, practice good hygiene, and maintain six feet of distance from others. For businesses, employees who interact with the public must wear facial coverings and enforce social distancing guidelines. Gaming establishments must register and obtain approval before reopening. No other business owners will be required to do so.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): Gov. Charlie Baker (R) unveiled a four-phase plan for reopening Massachusetts. Under Phase 1 (“Start”), limited industries will be permitted to reopen, subject to restrictions. In Phase 2 (“Cautious”), additional industries will be permitted to reopen, subject to restrictions and capacity limits. Under Phase 3 (“Vigilant”), more industries will be allowed to reopen, subject to guidance. In Phase 4 (“New Normal”), which is contingent on the development of a vaccine and/or therapeutic treatment, normal activities may resume. The plan does not have specific effective dates or contingencies for phases 1, 2, or 3. Baker also released mandatory safety standards for workplaces.
  • Oklahoma (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced Oklahoma was ready to move into Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan as intended on May 15. Under Phase 2, vulnerable populations are directed to continue following safer-at-home guidelines. Other individuals are directed to maintain social distancing measures and avoid group socializing, but can consider resuming nonessential travel. Employers are directed to close common areas or enforce social distancing and hygiene measures, honor the requests of vulnerable employees for special accommodations, and implement social distancing measures, including the use of personal protective equipment when working with the public. Also under Phase 2, organized sports activities can reopen under social distancing and sanitation measures, bars can operate with diminished standing room and social distancing and sanitation measures, childcare areas in places of worship can reopen and funerals and weddings can resume with social distancing measures. Visits to senior care facilities and hospitals are still prohibited under Phase 2.
  • Rhode Island (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced on Monday, May 11, that restaurants will be allowed to offer outdoor seating on May 18. Parties will be limited to five people or less, and restaurants will be required to maintain logs of employees and customers for contract tracing purposes. Rhode Island entered the first phase of its reopening plan Saturday, May 9.
  • South Carolina (Republican trifecta): Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced on May 11 that close-contact businesses could reopen beginning Monday, May 18. Businesses in that category include barbershops, hair salons, gyms, and pools. Businesses that reopen must follow specific guidelines, which include, keeping people six feet apart when possible, installing physical barriers at work stations, and putting up signs to remind employees and customers of safety and hygiene practices.
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced on May 12 that he had signed an executive order allowing Northern Virginia to delay entering the first phase of the reopening plan until May 29. The first phase of Virginia’s reopening plan is scheduled to start Friday, May 15. Officials in some northern counties had requested more time to deal with coronavirus cases.
  • Wisconsin (divided government): Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm had issued an order Monday, May 11, allowing retail stores to reopen with the limitation that they can only serve five customers at a time. The order does not apply to close-contact businesses like barbershops.

Update on stay-at-home orders

Forty-three states issued orders directing residents to stay home except for essential activities and the closure or curtailment of businesses each state deemed nonessential. Seven states did not.

As of May 12, 16 governors have ended their state’s stay-at-home orders. Twelve of those states have Republican governors and four have Democratic governors. Of the 27 states where governors have not ended their state’s stay-at-home orders, seven have Republican governors and 20 have Democratic governors.

Here’s which stay-at-home orders have expired, and when the rest are scheduled to expire.

Reopenings status

The table and maps below show the status of plans to lift restrictions on activities because of the pandemic. We update them daily.

We place states into six categories. How does your state stack up?

  • Reopenings in progress: the state has already lifted restrictions on some industries put in place because of the pandemic.
  • Announced reopenings, effective date: the state will reopen or partially reopen three or more industries on a set date.
  • Announced reopenings, contingent date: the state will reopen or partially reopen three or more industries on a targeted date, dependent on other conditions.
  • Announced reopenings, no date: the state has a plan to reopen three or more industries entirely dependent on conditions.
  • Limited or no announced reopening plan: the state has not yet put forth a plan to reopen three or more industries
  • No state-mandated closures were issued.

Featured plan

This is an in-depth summary of one of the latest reopening plans. Is there a plan you’d like us to feature? Reply to this email and let us know.

On May 1, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) unveiled a phased plan to reopen businesses that had been closed during the state’s original stay-at-home order, which took effect on March 24 and expired on May 4. Also on May 1, he issued a modified stay-at-home order which runs through May 31.

The plan provided for businesses to resume operations in waves:

  • May 1: Campgrounds, manufacturing, state parks.
  • May 4: Certain health care facilities/services.
  • May 11: Retail stores, drive-in movie theaters, public and private golf courses, barbers and hair salons.
  • May 18: Restaurants.

Sununu released industry-specific guidance documents for each type of business.

On announcing the plan, Sununu said, “The people of New Hampshire have taken this epidemic incredibly seriously. We have all played a small part in flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID19. We all know you are healthier at home, and that continues to be true, but we are also taking steps to reopen our economy in a smart, step-by-step approach that is supported by facts, science and data.”


  • As of May 11, New Hampshire had 3,160 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 133 reported deaths. As of July 2019, New Hampshire had an estimated population of 1.4 million residents. New Hampshire had 232.4 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents and 9.8 reported deaths per 100,000 residents as of May 11.
  • New Hampshire has a divided government, with a Republican governor and Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state Legislature.
  • Sununu’s stay-at-home order took effect on March 24, directing individuals to remain at home (with exceptions made for carrying out essential activities) and placing restrictions on nonessential businesses. The original order was set to expire on May 4. Sununu issued a modified stay-at-home order to replace the original. The modified order was set to expire on May 31. 

Plan details

Modified stay-at-home order (individual guidelines) 

New Hampshire’s modified stay-at-home order is in effect from May 1 through May 31 and directs individuals to stay home, with the following exceptions:

  • Outdoor recreation, subject to social distancing protocols.
  • Essential errands (e.g., trips to the grocery, pharmacy, etc.).
  • Visits with spouses, parents, or children.
  • Providing care for others.
  • Going to a gas station.
  • Ordering and picking up take-out food.
  • Receiving deliveries.
  • Receiving medical or dental care.
  • Going to work.
  • Patronizing or seeking services from essential businesses or businesses authorized to resume operations.

Universal business guidelines

The reopening plan outlined universal guidelines for all New Hampshire employers and employees.

General guidelines for all employers:

  • Employers must require employees who are feeling ill to remain at home.
  • Employers must screen all employees reporting for work for COVID-19 symptoms. Employers must instruct any employee who exhibits or COVID-19 symptoms or answers “yes” to any of the screening questions to leave immediately and seek medical advice.
  • “Employers must strongly promote frequent hand hygiene and alcohol-based hand sanitizer must be made readily available.” They must also “implement workplace cleaning and disinfection practices.”
  • Employers must support the use of face coverings in areas where social distancing is not feasible, implement social distancing guidelines, and modify employee schedules to reduce physical interactions wherever possible. They must permit employees to work from home wherever possible.
  • Employers must, if necessary, update their employee illness policies to comply with current public health recommendations.
  • Employers must “communicate frequently with both employees and customers about steps being taken to prevent spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.”

General guidelines for all employees

  • Employees must stay home if they are feeling ill and seek medical care as appropriate.
  • Employees must increase hygiene practices, wear cloth face coverings, practice social distancing, and abide by employer, local, and state guidelines.

Business reopenings and restrictions effective May 1

The following were permitted to reopen effective May 1, subject to the following sector-specific guidelines:

  • Campgrounds: Open only to members or New Hampshire residents; indoor and outdoor gatherings limited to a maximum of 10 people; swimming pools and playgrounds closed; group campsites closed; campsite occupancy limited to 6-8 people; no visitors allowed.
  • Manufacturing: Adjust processes to accommodate social distancing (including spacing out equipment, staggering shifts, etc.).
  • State parks: Playgrounds and boat rentals closed; water fountains turned off; public ocean beaches closed.

Business reopenings and restrictions effective May 4

The following were permitted to reopen effective May 4, subject to the following sector-specific guidelines:

  • Certain healthcare services: Some non-emergency healthcare services and procedures may resume, subject to sufficient capacity, COVID-19 screening and testing capabilities, and adequate supplies of personal protective equipment.

Business reopenings and restrictions effective May 11

The following were permitted to reopen effective May 11, subject to the following sector-specific guidelines:

  • Retail: Retail businesses may reopen their physical locations at 50% of their normal capacity.
  • Drive-in movie theaters: Minimum 10-feet spacing between cars must be maintained.
  • Public and private golf courses: pro shops and clubhouses remain closed; amenities such as pools, locker rooms, etc. remain closed.
  • Barbers and hair salons: Services available by appointment only; both customers and staff must wear face coverings; services are limited to haircuts and root touch-ups.

Business reopenings and restrictions effective May 18

The following were permitted to reopen effective May 18, subject to the following sector-specific guidelines:

  • Restaurants: Outdoor seating permitted with no more than six guests per table; indoor dining remains closed; bar seating remains closed


  • Before the May 11 reopening of retail businesses, Mike Skelton, president and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said, “I think that for the retail sector it’s a step forward into a new normal that is going to be part of our daily lives for some time. While I’m sure it will not be without its hiccups or challenges, the sooner that businesses can start learning how to adapt to new guidelines and protocols, the better. I think they’re going to be able to learn from that and improve their operations and how they can most successfully operate in this environment.”
  • Katherine Nevins, owner of an independent bookstore in Warner, said, “How do we determine who is safe to come in and who’s not safe? And after they leave, the environment is potentially not safe for the next customer. It’s just absurd. As a business owner and someone who cares immensely about my community, I would not risk any one.”
  • Jim Roche, president of the Business and Industry Association, sent Sununu a letter urging him to issue an executive order establishing liability protections for businesses as they reopen: “On behalf of the thousands of enterprises we collectively represent in all corners of New Hampshire, we the undersigned respectfully request that you promulgate an emergency order under the powers conferred upon you during this pandemic to create a legal ‘safe harbor’ for employers to protect from COVID-19 related liability litigation. Absent such protection, business of all shapes and sizes will be deterred from reopening or returning to pre-pandemic operations, slowing New Hampshire’s economic recovery.”
  • State Senators Kevin Cavanaugh and Martha Hennesey, both Democrats, sent the governor a letter urging him against granting such liability protections: “Granting blanket immunity to businesses from liability as it relates to spreading the coronavirus would be a grave mistake. It would be a mistake, not only because of the physical danger that it presents to New Hampshire public health, but also the danger it poses to the intricate and complicated legal relationship between employee and employer.”

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of activities by other federal, state, and local governments and influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • Idaho (Republican trifecta): Treasure Valley Classical Academy, a public charter school, announced that it would be the first school to reopen to in-person instruction in Idaho on May 18, if the state moves to Phase Two of Gov. Brad Little’s (R) reopening plan on May 16. The school received approval to reopen from their regional health district. There are 294 students between kindergarten and sixth grade enrolled at the school, which would have nine days remaining until summer break. Idaho schools are permitted to reopen when local social distancing orders are lifted and if schools meet certain State Board of Education criteria. Montana has also permitted local school districts to open to in-person instruction.
  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): Madison County (outside St. Louis) officials will vote this evening on a resolution to reopen the county. The resolution calls Madison a “constitutional republican” and would lift any stay-at-home order there.
  • Michigan (divided government): On May 11, Shiawassee County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart rejected an attempt by Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) to obtain a restraining order to close down a barbershop that had reopened for business on May 4, in violation of an executive order. The state issued a health protection order against Karl Manke’s Barber and Beauty Shop in Owosso on May 8. When Manke refused to comply with the order and close his shop, Nessel petitioned Stewart for the restraining order. It is unclear whether Nessel’s office intends to appeal the decision.
  • Minnesota (divided government): On May 11, the Minnesota State Senate, which has a Republican majority, voted 39-28 in favor of a bill that would allow businesses to reopen. They would have to develop a COVID-19 preparedness plan and provide a statement indicating that they will comply with testing protocols and workplace safety measures established by the state department of health and the Centers for Disease Control. It now goes to the Minnesota House of Representatives, which has a Democratic majority. Gov. Tim Walz is also a Democrat.
  • Texas (Republican trifecta): The Texas Restaurant Association and a group of bar owners delivered a plan to Gov. Greg Abbott (R) for reopening bars and nightclubs.