US reopening: What states are relaxing social distancing restrictions and moving away from lockdowns?

Various social distancing orders across the United States have helped slow the spread of the coronavirus, but states are feeling increasing pressure from protesters and at times the White House to begin relaxing restrictions. Now, some are outlining their plans to do so.

President Donald Trump, who on April 16 announced guidelines for states to start opening their economies, has cited a handful of examples of states taking steps toward a “safe, gradual and phased opening,” including Texas, Vermont and Ohio. He is pushing to relax the U.S. lockdown by May 1, a plan that hinges partly on more testing.

Several states have announced plans to coordinate their response with neighbors: California is moving forward in coordination with Washington and Oregon; governors from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island have announced plans to form a joint task force.

Some local restrictions have already been lifted. On April 17, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave some municipalities the green light to reopen some beaches with restricted hours and only for walking, biking, hiking, fishing, running, swimming, taking care of pets and surfing. In Jacksonville, people enthusiastically flocked to beaches when they reopened, drawing criticism on social media. On April 18, DeSantis said schools would remain closed through the end of the academic year.

Idaho and North Dakota
Trump said on April 18 that along with Ohio, Idaho and North Dakota had “advised nonessential businesses to prepare for a phased reopening starting May 1.”

Trump said on April 18 that Montana will “begin lifting restrictions” on April 24.

New York
On April 18, New York joined the states of Connecticut and New Jersey in opening up their marinas, boatyards and boat launches for recreational use.