When can I reopen my business after COVID-19?

Important PPP update for 2021

On December 22, 2020, Congress passed a bill renewing funding under the CARES Act, including an additional $284 billion earmarked for America’s struggling small businesses. The rules and application process for PPP loans and forgiveness have been modified, with more businesses eligible for PPP loans, more expenses forgivable, and a simplified application process. Also there is provision for “second draw” PPP loans for businesses that received PPP funding in 2020.


In this 4-minute read:

  • Three-phase reopening of America
  • How do I know when I can reopen my business?

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most U.S. territories and state to enact shelter-in-place orders, causing several non-essential businesses to close their doors until the threat of the disease slows down. 

So, the question on several business owners’ minds right now: when can I open my business again?

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When will states reopen and what does that mean for my business?

While we don’t have an exact answer to this question, President Trump has put guidelines in place to start a phased reopening of America to help the economy start moving forward again. This means reopening your business. 

This three-phase plan, “Opening Up America Again,” will start being tested soon in areas that aren’t as high of a risk for spreading the disease. 

Each state governor has the directive to adapt this phased rollout as they see fit for their state. 

What is the three-phase reopening plan?

Each phase of the reopening plan has guidelines for individuals and employers to go out into the community and reopen their businesses. These phases are meant to slowly reintegrate people into the community while maintaining social distancing guidelines until eventually things are back to normal. 

Before we dive into each phase of the reopening plan, there are some criteria that each area must meet before starting.

Six criteria, set by WHO, must be met:

  1. Decline in flu-like illnesses over a 14-day period
  2. Decline in covid-like cases over a 14-day period
  3. Decline in documented cases over a 14-day period
  4. Decline in positive tests as a percentage of overall tests over a 14-day span
  5. Hospitals must be able to treat all COVID-19 patients without crisis care
  6. Robust testing capabilities must be in place for healthcare workers

Due to these criteria, each state, and even down to the county or city level, may start rolling out the reopening plan at different times over the next several months. 

Here’s a brief summary of what each phase should look like.

Phase 1 

Vulnerable individuals should continue to shelter-in-place and precautions should continue to be taken to avoid spreading the disease. Social distancing should still be maintained in public spaces, and group settings of more than ten people should be avoided. Non-essential travel is highly discouraged and should be minimized. 

Employers should continue to allow staff to work from home where possible, and allow staff to come back to work in phases, adhering to social distancing guidelines. 

Special circumstances include places of business and public settings, like schools and organized activities, that are currently closed to remain closed during this phase. Bars should remain closed. 

Large venues like sit-down restaurants, movie theaters, churches, sports arenas, and gyms can reopen if adhering to strict physical distancing rules. 

Elective surgeries may continue, as appropriate, on an outpatient basis. 

Phase 2

Phase 2 can begin if states and regions didn’t see a rebound in COVID-19 cases or symptoms and they satisfy all of the criteria for a second time. 

In this phase, vulnerable individuals should still remain in their homes and those who are close to these individuals should take extra precautions to avoid spreading the disease to them. 

Non-essential travel can resume and public group gatherings should not exceed 50 people, while still maintaining healthy physical distance. 

The businesses that can open in Phase 1 may continue to stay open and should maintain moderate physical distancing guidelines. Bars may reopen, but should maintain lower occupancy and practice social distancing. 

Phase 3

Phase 3 is for regions that have passed the criteria for a third-time, with no increases in COVID-19 symptoms or cases. 

Vulnerable individuals should be able to return to public activities, but should still practice safe hygiene and social distancing guidelines. 

Employers can allow their staff members to return to the workplace. Large venues and gathering places can continue to operate under minimal physical distancing protocols. 

How do I know when I can reopen my business?

We know this reopening plan is slightly vague and probably leaves many of you wondering still when you can open up shop again. As federal officials have recommended, you should keep up to date on your state’s COVID-19 situation and start preparing for things to start opening up again, particularly if you are in a lower risk region. 

Some federal officials are hopeful that lower risk regions could start rolling out these phases in as soon as a month while other locations may need to wait a little longer. 

If you are concerned about the financial impact of COVID-19 on your business and how long the reopening process might take for your region, we have some resources that can help:

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