President Trump wants the U.S. economy to restart as soon as possible, but Americans don't seem ready to go out as they fear a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Many health experts have warned that widespread coronavirus testing should be implemented before reopening the U.S. economy. But Donald Trump doesn’t listen. He wants to open up the country so that it can start to recover financially.
The president unveiled his three-phase plan on Thursday for states to reopen as soon as May 1 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Under the first phase, large venues like restaurants, movie theaters, sporting venues and places of worship could reopen if they operate according to strict physical distancing protocols.
More testing could reassure people to go out to a certain extent, but the economy probably won’t go back to normal for a very long time.
Americans seem not to be ready to get back to life like it was before COVID-19. The lockdown has changed the way we do things. When the lockdown is lifted, people will be afraid of going back to restaurants, movie theaters and other public places.
Restaurants will likely have to reduce seating capacity to respect social distancing. If they want to survive, they will have to offer take-out if they don’t already. According to a Harris Poll survey of 2,013 Americans from April 11-13, 65% are more likely to get take-out than dine at restaurant.
People will also be wary of going back to movie theaters and to the gym. Almost eight in 10 (79%) are more likely to watch a movie at home than going to the theater (21%). A whopping 85% are more likely to exercise at home than to go back to their local gym (15%).
Online shopping is surging because people cannot go to stores. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has hired hundreds of thousands of employees to answer the increased demand.
This change in habits will likely last post-coronavirus until fear of catching the virus calms down.
Americans will also not want to travel for a long time. Even if they are allowed to get on a plane again, two out of three won’t travel for at least three months after COVID-19 subsides.
Americans are worried about loosening restrictions too quickly: 84% fear it will cause a spike in coronavirus cases. Because they are afraid of catching the virus, about two-thirds say that people should be forced to wear masks if they go out in public. Do you see yourself eating at a restaurant while wearing a mask?
A vaccine might be the only way for life and economy to get back to normal. According to the Harris Poll survey, 62% of Americans think a vaccine would be necessary to resume normal activities. This number drops to 48% if we test everyone for COVID-19.
Trump’s top health adviser Dr Anthony Fauci said:
If ‘back to normal’ means acting like there never was a coronavirus problem, I don’t think that’s going to happen until we do have a situation where you can completely protect the population… Ultimately, the showstopper will obviously be a vaccine.
But we’ll have to be patient since it could take 12 to 18 months for a vaccine to be ready. The economy will likely run at a slow pace until then.
Besides consumers not being ready, reopening the U.S. economy while the globe remains in lockdown poses a big problem. Only domestic supply can account for that demand surge in the U.S. It looks like Trump’s plan to restart the U.S. economy is doomed to fail.