Oklahoma is one of more than 30 states making the decision to partially reopen May 1 after weeks of stay-at-home or safer-at-home orders meant to keep the coronavirus pandemic from overwhelming healthcare systems. Slowing the curve of COVID-19 infections and deaths has come at a profound economic cost, however, with 30 million workers across the country filing for unemployment benefits since mid-March.
The decision to start the reopening process comes with plenty of controversy. Oklahoma’s largest cities waited to open personal care businesses like barbershops and nail salons even after Governor Kevin Stitt gave the go-ahead for them to open April 24th. But As of May 1, even those cities are getting back to business.
The reopening is expected to come in three phases, as long as the virus doesn’t make a big comeback. For now, phase one reopening includes state parks and recreation areas, dine-in service at restaurants, some sports venues, even gyms and movie theaters, as well as personal care businesses by appointment only. Churches will also be allowed to hold services in person. For all of those businesses, social distancing measures and sanitation protocols will remain in place.
During phase one, vulnerable members of the population and those over the age of 65 are encouraged to remain home as much as possible, and non-essential travel should be avoided by everyone.
Bars, schools, organized sporting events and camps are all still closed or canceled in phase one, though employers can start to develop plans to gradually allow employees to return to offices. Visits to nursing homes and hospitals are still prohibited.
Guidance from the state says if hospital incident rates remain at a manageable level for 14 more days, phase 2 will begin, which would include the opening of bars, summer camps, and organized sporting events. Wedding and funerals would be allowed to resume, though social distancing rules will still apply.