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Opening Up America Again’ – Trump unveils three-phase plan

The guidelines make clear that returning to normal will be a far longer process than the president initially envisioned.

Donald Trump has unveiled a three-phase plan to help the US return to normal, with one in seven American workers now unemployed.

The president said the guidelines – known as “Opening Up America Again” – are designed to ease restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus.

Before phase one of the plan can begin, a state or region must have seen a downwards trajectory in the number of new COVID-19 cases over 14 days.

Robust testing programmes for at-risk healthcare workers must be in force, while hospitals must have enough PPE, beds and ventilators to treat patients.

In phase one of Mr Trump’s plan, schools and bars will remain closed – but larger venues such as cinemas, churches and arenas can start to reopen if strict social distancing measures are in place.

At-risk groups such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions must continue to stay at home, and gatherings of more than 10 people will continue to be prohibited.

During phase two, non-essential travel can begin to resume, but the vulnerable will still be urged to stay indoors.

Schools can resume lessons and bars can reopen as long as they leave less room for people to stand around.

Social settings of more than 50 people will be prohibited, with employers told to continue encouraging their staff to work from home.

In the third phase, at-risk groups can start to go out in public as long as they follow social distancing measures.

Visitors will be permitted in care homes and hospitals again as long as they follow good hygiene practices and wash their hands frequently.

Offices and other workplaces can also return to normal without restrictions.

There are no set timelines for each of these three phases, and Mr Trump says governors across the US will be allowed to take a different approach in their own states and remain closed if necessary.

During a White House news conference, the president also warned that the US must remain vigilant about new COVID-19 cases coming from abroad, and he acknowledged that infections could flare up in the autumn.

Mr Trump also suggested that 29 states should be able to reopen relatively soon, and some could start following the “Opening Up America Again” guidelines today.

“Now that we have passed the peak in new cases, we’re starting our life again, we’re starting rejuvenation of our economy again in a safe, structured and very responsible fashion,” he added.

The guidelines make clear that returning to normal will be a far longer process than the president initially envisioned, with some federal officials warning that social distancing measures may need to be in force until the end of the year to prevent another outbreak.

Sky’s US correspondent Amanda Walker said: “Donald Trump’s vision was a sort of grand pan-America reopening. That simply won’t be the case.

“This is going to be a protracted situation based on individual states. It’s quite a high bar to even enter these three phases of starting to reopen.

“Mr Trump clearly wants to get things back to normal, he’s acknowledging the seriousness of the situation as well, but the experts are saying that it’s the virus that controls the timeline.”