U.S. President Donald Trump has said border control and travel restrictions would be top-priority as the country prepares to reopen its economy after a costly coronavirus shutdown.
Trump said during his daily news briefing on COVID-19 at the White House on Thursday where he announced a three-phased plan for the reopening process.
“As we begin a science-based reopening, we must be extra vigilant in blocking the foreign entry of the virus from abroad.
“Border control, travel restrictions and other limitations on entry are more important than never before to keep the virus in check and allow Americans to get back to work,” he said.
Citing expert advice, the president said the pandemic curve had flattened and the peak in new cases behind, hence the need for Americans to “start our lives again”.
However, he said the States would decide on when to reopen, but the guidelines recommend criteria that would have to be met in this regard.
“Based on the latest data, our team of experts agrees we can start the next front in our war, which we are calling ‘Opening up America Again”.
“And that is what we are doing, opening up our country and we have to do that,” he said.
Trump said that a prolonged shutdown combined with “a forced economic depression” could deeply hurt the country and its economy.
The document lays out the guidelines to be followed for the reopening of businesses across the country badly hit by the economic impact of the pandemic.
One of the key recommendations for the first phase is the avoidance of groups of more than 10 people where appropriate social distancing is impossible.
The first phase also discourages non-essential travel and encourages telework (working from home) and closure of common areas in offices.
Also recommended is the need for States to achieve a 14-day “downward trajectory” in coronavirus cases before beginning the re-opening process.
Under the plan, States are expected to set up screening and testing centres in addition to develop contact tracing capabilities.
It also recommends that hospitals should have a “robust testing programme,” in place for healthcare workers, among others.
While acknowledging that there would be challenges ahead, Trump said the goal was to quickly identify and address new cases.
“If the virus returns in the fall as some scientists think it may, possibly, these guidelines will ensure that our country is up and running so that we can likewise put it out quickly,” he said.