Stitt Targeting June 1 to have Oklahoma Businesses Running at Nearly Normal Levels
Gov. Kevin Stitt appears set to give it a month before implementing the third phase of his Open Up and Recover Safely Plan and have businesses running at nearly normal levels.
"What we're thinking is that could be June 1, and those would be summer camps, church school and sport camps could open back up and then hopefully some of our social distancing requirements could decrease at that time," Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce Sean Kouplen said during a Tulsa Regional Chamber virtual forum.
Restaurants, bars and other businesses would already be open at that point, but employers could resume unrestricted staffing and some social distancing requirements could be relaxed. Kouplen said while the state has about $4.6 billion in federal Paycheck Protection Program loans coming in, as far as anyone knows for now, those will only last for eight weeks.
"I certainly feel an urgency, and I know the governor does too, to begin to get things opening back up because at the end of eight weeks, I don't know how many stimulus packages we're going to have rolling in. And so, we need our businesses to be back and functioning and cash flowing," Kouplen said.
Kouplen said there’s a mental health component to their reopening timeline as well, because depression, substance abuse and domestic violence rates go up the longer people must stay home most of the time.
In phase one Stitt's OURS Plan, restaurants, movie theaters, churches and gyms may reopen Saturday if they use recommended social distancing and sanitation protocols. Phase two has a target date of May 15 for bars to open at diminished capacity, and funerals and weddings to resume under social distancing protocols.
Moving from phase to phase is contingent upon hospital and incident rates remaining at a "manageable level" for 14 days.
Health experts have cautioned against reopening the state so soon during the COVID-19 pandemic.