Trump says US may reopen economy before May 1; Canada not in hurry

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with people that have recovered from COVID-19, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Washington. Photo: AP/PTI
As coronavirus cases continue to rise in the US, President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the govt is close to completing a plan to end the shutdown and reopen the battered economy, with some parts of the country may get ready before May 1.

Trump said he would speak and "authorise" all 50 governors to implement plans in their states at an appropriate time, probably on Thursday by video conference, Reuters reported.

Trump's coronavirus task force has recommended people across the country follow strict social distancing guidelines through the end of April. Opening some states before that would go against the guidelines in their current form.

Trump, facing re-election on November 3 and under pressure to get the economy going again after millions have been made jobless by the shutdown, said some states should be able to reopen soon, based on a low rate of infections.

"We think that some of the governors will be in really good shape to open up even sooner" than the end of April, Trump said. "Others are going to have to take a longer period of time."

Trump had initially said he hoped to reopen the economy by Easter in mid-April, but the mounting toll of infections and projected deaths forced him to extend federal guidelines for 30 days to the end of April. Some medical experts question whether the country will be ready by then.

The president drew fire from governors for saying on Monday at a contentious briefing that he has "total authority" to order them to reopen. Constitutional experts have doubted he has such authority but Trump has not backed down.

In  a contrast to Trump's plan, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said it will still be weeks before the country can start reopening the economy.

Everyone is very interested to know when things are going to get back to normal, when they'll be able to go back to work, Trudeau said.

The reality is, it is going to be weeks still. We recognize that it is going to be important to get our economy going and we will have to do it in phases, he added.

Canada has more than 26,880 confirmed cases including 898 deaths. More than half the deaths in the country have occurred in long-term care homes.

The US-Canada border remains closed to all nonessential travel. Canada is still receiving repatriation flights for Canadians who have been stranded abroad. Trudeau said travel restrictions will remain for many weeks.

Meanwhile, South Koreans on Wednesday headed for polls despite coronavirus threat with temperature checks on voters and special polling stations for the quarantined.

South Korea is the first country with a major virus outbreak to hold a national election since the global pandemic began, and a complex web of safety measures was spun around the ballot, as well as the campaigning that preceded it.

All citizens must wear protective masks and undergo temperature checks at the polling station. Those found to have fever will cast their ballots in separate booths to be disinfected after each use.

"We are now holding an election at a very difficult time amid social distancing campaigns and a contraction of economic activity," election commission chairman Kwon Soon-il said Tuesday.

Coming to south east Asia, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan  on Tuesday extended the nationwide lockdown with relaxation to some sectors.

"We made the hard decision of imposing lockdown in the country which was very well implemented due to cooperation of the people," Khan said.

He said that the spread of coronavirus had slowed down to 30 per cent of the projected target, ANI reported.

The Prime Minister said ventilators, protective clothing, and other gear "have been reaching the country to meet the demand".

Imran Khan announced to open the construction industry in cities from today as this has the lowest risk factor in terms of coronavirus spread.

As many as 5983 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been detected in Pakistan so far and the death toll in the country has reached 107, health officials said on Tuesday.

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