Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: May 26, 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:

  • Track the status of reopening in all 50 states.
  • Compare the status of one industry or activity across the country.
  • Provide in-depth summaries of the latest reopening plans.
  • Give you the latest stories on other reopening plans and ideas.

Want to know what happened Friday? Click here.

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The next two days

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

May 27

  • Colorado (Democratic trifecta): On May 25, Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced that restaurant dining rooms could reopen effective May 27. Dining rooms will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity with a table limit of eight people and tables spaced six feet apart.

May 28

  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): On May 20, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced that bars and other alcohol-related establishments would be allowed to reopen effective May 28. We’ll give the status of bars in all 50 states in another edition this week.

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.

  • California (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) released guidelines on May 25 for the reopening of religious buildings. The guidelines took effect immediately, allowing churches, mosques, synagogues, and other religious worship sites to reopen. Facilities will be limited to 25 percent of the building’s capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower. The guidelines also require temperature screenings at the door, face coverings, and social distancing. The guidelines are set to last for 21 days before being re-evaluated by the state’s health department.
  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): O‘ahu, Maui, and Kaua‘i counties announced plans to allow medium-risk businesses and activities to resume under state guidelines. Kaua‘i provided for the immediate reopening of pools, religious services, outdoor tours, salons, barbershops, cleaning and construction work, and one-on-one personal services (such as fitness classes, tutoring, and music lessons). O‘ahu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced that religious services would be able to resume on May 23 and restaurants will open for dine-in on June 5. DIne-in services will also resume in Maui starting June 5.
  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): State officials released a toolkit and restrictions for businesses reopening in the third phase of the Restore Illinois plan. Phase Three is expected to begin on May 29.
  • Kentucky (divided government): Effective May 25, the following businesses were allowed to reopen, all subject to 33% capacity limits: barbershops, cosmetology services, and hair salons; massage therapy services; nail salons; tanning salons; and tattoo parlors.
  • Massachusetts (divided government): Effective May 25, the following businesses were allowed to reopen: lab spaces; office spaces; personal services (hair salons, pet grooming, car washes), and retail (delivery and curbside pick-up). The following recreation sites and activities were also permitted to reopen or resume effective May 25: beaches; parks; drive-in movie theaters; select athletic fields; outdoor adventure activities; fishing, hunting, and boating; and outdoor gardens, zoos, reserves, and other public installations.
  • Michigan (divided government): Effective May 26, retailers and car dealerships statewide were allowed to reopen to customers by appointment. On May 22, Whitmer extended Michigan’s stay-at-home order through June 12.
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Gov. Tate Reeves (R) extended the state’s safer-at-home order through June 1. It was scheduled to expire on May 25. He also lifted some restrictions on outdoor recreation activities and businesses, including water parks, playgrounds, and sports practices.
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On May 22, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) set June 4 as the target date for reopening casinos, which have been closed since March. Several major resort chains have already released cleaning and health guidelines. Sisolak is scheduled to hold a news conference to unveil phase two of the state’s reopening plan at 5:30 p.m. on May 26.
  • New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced that elective medical procedures and professional sports activities would be able to resume starting May 26. Murphy also signed an order allowing for modified in-person graduation ceremonies on or after June 6.
  • New York (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the Mid-Hudson region would begin Phase One of the state’s reopening plan starting May 26 and Long Island would begin the first phase on May 27. Cuomo also said campgrounds, sports teams’ facilities, and veterinary clinics would be able to start reopening. New York City is the only region in the state that has not started reopening.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): Gov. Doug Burgum (R) issued an executive order on May 22 lifting restrictions on several industries and calling for businesses to comply with guidelines developed in the state’s “Smart Restart” plan. The order applies to salons, tattoo studios, massage services, health clubs and athletic facilities, bars and restaurants, and movie theaters. All of the businesses are “strongly encouraged to adopt and rigorously follow” industry-specific standards. Guidelines include limiting capacity to maintain social distancing and encouraging face coverings for employees working closely with the public. The order also allows state facilities such as the Capitol building to reopen June 1. State employees working remotely can begin returning to work in consultation with their supervisors.
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): Effective May 26, several businesses can reopen, including swimming pools, gyms, bowling alleys, and mini-golf centers. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, like tennis and softball, can also restart. The Ohio Department of Health released sector-specific operating requirements businesses must follow to reopen. Although the specific requirements vary by industry, a common stipulation is that businesses must ensure 6 feet of distance between employees and customers.
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): On May 23, Clackamas County joined 33 other counties in Phase 1 of reopening. In Phase 1, gathering sizes are limited to 25, and restaurants and bars can open for dine-in. Retailers, malls, personal service businesses (like hairdressers and salons), and fitness centers can also reopen, contingent on their compliance with state guidelines.
  • Pennsylvania (divided government): Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced that eight more counties would move into the yellow phase of reopening and 17 counties would enter the green phase starting May 29. Wolf also said the remaining 10 red-phase counties were expected to move to yellow by June 5. During the yellow phase, theaters and gyms remain closed, but some types of businesses, such as retail, can begin to reopen with restrictions. Bars and restaurants are limited to carry-out and delivery. The green phase will allow most businesses and functions to reopen under state restrictions, including salons, barbershops, spas, casinos, theaters, malls, and gyms. Gathering limits will also be lifted in the green phase, but the state will continue to restrict large entertainment gatherings and visits to nursing homes and prisons. The Wolf administration also released guidelines for youth summer camps.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Saturday, May 23, Secretary of Health Jonn Weisman permitted seven counties to advance to Phase 2 of the reopening plan. Twenty-one of Washington’s 39 counties have moved into Phase 2. Counties can apply to move into Phase 2 if they have an average of less than 10 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents over a 14 days.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): The state entered the fifth week of reopening effective May 26, enabling additional businesses to reopen with restrictions. Zoos, museums and visitors centers, and indoor and outdoor bars can reopen at 50% capacity. State park cabins and lodges can also reopen for state residents only.

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 26, stay-at-home orders have ended in 28 states. Eighteen of those states have Republican governors and 10 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Of the 15 states with active stay-at-home orders, one has a Republican governor and 14 have Democratic governors. Many states have begun allowing various businesses and activities to resume while still leaving stay-at-home orders in place.

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

Tracking industries: Movie theaters

All 50 states have begun to reopen in some way. Here, we give the status of one industry or activity across the states. Today’s question: Can I go see a show in a movie theater?

Movie theaters may open in 16 states. They may not open in 34 states. The chart and map below indicate which states permit movie theaters to open in some form, even with restrictions (like capacity) or only in certain regions. States allowing only drive-in theaters to open are not included.

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. Click here for previous editions and featured plans.

On April 28, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) and State Health Director Scott Harris announced they would allow Alabama’s stay-at-home order to expire on April 30. At that time, some businesses that had been closed under the stay-at-home order were allowed to resume operations, subject to social distancing guidelines and capacity restrictions.

Ivey and Harris unveiled a three-phase framework for reopening businesses and resuming non-essential activities:

  • Stay-at-home, the period covered by the original stay-at-home, which expired on April 30;
  • Safer-at-home, the period beginning April 30 and continuing to present; and
  • Safer-apart, the duration and details of which have not been publicly released.

Ivey said, “As of this week, we no longer believe our hospitals will see an overwhelming amount of ICU patients who need ventilators as we once believed. And that is good news for sure. While we have not seen a decrease in the amount of newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients, we have seen stabilization, a leveling off, if you will, in the amount of cases. Like everyone else, I look forward to easing back into our routines with caution. Just like we eased into this current stay at home order, we will also be thoughtful and careful as we ease back into our social interactions.”

Ivey and Scott have issued two amended safer-at-home orders, which further eased restrictions on individuals and businesses.


  • Ivey and Harris issued Alabama’s original statewide stay-at-home order on April 3. It took effect at 5:00 p.m. on April 4 and continued through 5:00 p.m. on April 30. Under the stay-at-home order, Alabamans were ordered to remain at home unless carrying out essential tasks (e.g., obtaining necessary supplies, attending religious services, etc.).
  • As of May 25, there had been 14,730 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 562 confirmed fatalities. Alabama had an estimated population of 4.9 million as of July 2019. The state had 300.4 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 11.5 confirmed fatalities per 100,000 residents.
  • Alabama is a Republican trifecta, with a Republican governor and Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Plan details

Safer-at-home order: At 5:00 p.m. on April 30, the safer-at-home order took effect, establishing the following restrictions and guidelines for individuals and businesses.

Guidelines for individuals: Individuals encouraged, but not required, to minimize travel outside the home and wear face coverings in public. Social gatherings of 10 people or more remained prohibited.

Guidelines for businesses: Employers were required to do the following:

  • Maintain six feet of separation between employees.
  • Avoid or reduce gatherings of 10 employees or more.
  • Regularly disinfect frequently used objects and surfaces.
  • Encourage hand washing.
  • Prevent ill employees from coming into contact with others.
  • Facilitate remote working arrangements and minimize employee travel.

The following businesses and services were allowed to resume operations:

  • Retailers (50% capacity).
  • Beaches.
  • Non-emergency medical procedures.

The following businesses and services were ordered to remain closed:

  • Entertainment venues (e.g., night clubs, bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, etc.).
  • Athletic facilities (e.g., fitness centers, commercial gyms, spas, etc.) and athletic activities.
  • Educational institutions.
  • Child-care facilities (serving 12 or more children).
  • Close-contact service providers (e.g., barbershops, hair salons, body art facilities, etc.).
  • Dine-in service at restaurants and other eateries.
  • Summer camps.

First amended safer-at-home order: On May 11, an amended safer-at-home order took effect, implementing the following modifications:

Guidelines for individuals: The prohibition against social gatherings of 10 people or more was lifted.

Guidelines for businesses: The following businesses and services were allowed to resume operations:

  • Close-contact service providers (employees required to wear face coverings when providing services).
  • Athletic facilities (employees required to wear face coverings when interacting with clients).
  • Dine-in service at restaurants and other eateries (party size limited to eight; six feet of distance between tables, booths, etc.; employees required to wear face coverings when interacting with customers).

Second amended safer-at-home order: On May 22, a second amended safer-at-home order took effect, implementing the following modifications:

Guidelines for businesses: The following businesses and services were allowed to resume operations:

  • Entertainment venues (50% capacity; employees required to wear face coverings when interacting with clients or guests).
  • Athletic activities (practices allowed effective May 23; competitions allowed effective June 15).
  • Educational institutions (effective June 1).
  • Child-care facilities (effective May 23).
  • Summer camps.


  • Fred McCallum, interim president and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance, issued a statement on the first round of reopenings that took effect on April 30: “The Birmingham business community would like to thank Governor Ivey for making sure the decision to reopen businesses throughout the state was methodical and informed by data, science and input from businesses and elected officials, and vetted through a team of experts in those areas from around the state. However, many small- and mid-size businesses in Birmingham are experiencing severe hardship due to closures, and they struggle with a difference of opinion on when and how businesses should reopen. While we appreciate the Governor’s cautious approach to the reopening process, we do look forward to the opening of many more businesses on or before May 15, 2020.”
  • U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R) supported easing restrictions through the course of May: “The first three weeks of May have been eventful for all of us, as parts of our economy in Alabama have reopened and as more economic relief bills have been brought before Congress. I am glad that our state is holding strong and loosening restrictions so that we can go to church, get a haircut, and even sit down for a meal at certain restaurants. This is solid progress, and I am hopeful that we will see more of it as we move further into May. Although there is not a great deal of good news coming from Washington, there is good news in Alabama. As you all know and have experienced, our state is one of the most open in the entire country. Some studies have us ranked as the 4th most open state out of all 50 in the union. This is fantastic, especially since the number of cases has not spiked since enacting these measures.”
  • Josh Moon, in an op-ed for Alabama Political Reporter, criticized the amended safer-at-home orders: “A week ago, after telling people that it would be data that determined when Alabama reopens, and that she would follow the White House guidelines for reopening, she did neither. Instead, she did exactly what she said she wouldn’t do — used a date to determine that it was time to lift restrictions. The lockdown had gone on too long, Ivey said, and it was time to lift it. She did so as positive cases were on the rise. And with absolutely no plan for comprehensive testing and tracing — the one thing that Ivey and all medical experts said we HAD to have before we could safely lift restrictions.”
  • In an interview with CNN, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed criticized the pace of reopening throughout the state: “I think certainly people have decided that the pandemic is over, that there’s not a risk out. They are ready to get back to their normal way of doing things, and that’s a mistake that we’ve been making over the last few weeks as we have kind of eased restrictions in this community and across the state. It’s giving people a false sense of security. We’re still in the middle of a crisis. We’re still battling this pandemic. We still have to practice social distancing. We have to wear masks when we’re in public.”

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.

  • The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider a motion allowing cities in the county with low COVID-19 cases to reopen early. If approved, the motion would be used to help those cities persuade Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to grant them an exemption to the statewide reopening timeline.
  • In South Carolina, U.S. district court Judge J. Michelle Childs issued a preliminary injunction barring election officials from enforcing South Carolina’s witness requirement for absentee ballots in the June 9 primary and subsequent runoff elections. The plaintiffs in the suit had also asked for a suspension of the requirement that completed ballots be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day, provided they were postmarked on or before June 9. Childs denied that request.
    • Fortney was elected sheriff on Nov. 5, 2019, with 55% of the vote. The recall petition was approved for circulation on May 15, 2020. Recall supporters must collect 44,000 signatures to get the recall on the ballot. A second recall petition against Fortney was filed on May 15, 2020. Before it can be circulated, the petition must be approved in a court hearing.
  • Snohomish County, Washington: An effort to recall Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney began after Fortney announced in an April Facebook post his office would not enforce Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. The recall petition says Fortney “used his position as an elected official to encourage citizens to defy the law and violate the Governor’s Emergency Proclamations.” Forney said he stands by his earlier statement, and the sheriff’s office “will not be enforcing an order preventing religious freedoms or constitutional rights.”
  • The city of Nashville, Tennessee began the second phase of its reopening plan Monday, May 25. The second phase lifts some capacity restrictions, allowing retail and commercial businesses and restaurants and bars serving food to open at 75% capacity. Bars, however, are still closed. Gyms and hair and nail salons can open at 50% capacity. While live music is permitted, dance floors are closed and only two performers can be onstage at the same time.
  • Legislatures in Colorado, Delaware, and New York resumed their sessions today, May 26, after suspending their sessions in response to the outbreak. Rhode Island’s legislature extended its suspension through at least May 29.