CDC draft outlines phased reopening of child care, religious institutions, food industry amid coronavirus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has drafted proposed guidelines for a phased reopening of the economy as some states begin to lift stay-at-home orders and resume operations amid the coronavirus pandemic, Fox News has learned.

Fox News obtained a copy of the 17-page draft proposal on Monday, which contains guidelines for child care centers, schools, day camps, faith-based institutions, bars and restaurants and public transportation, and an outline of specific directions for each sector.

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According to the Washington Post, which first obtained the draft guidelines, coronavirus task force members Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council Joe Grogan have reviewed the proposed guidelines.

The CDC draft proposal begins with child care programs, stating that “the reopening” of those programs “is crucial to helping parents and guardians return to work.”

The guidelines note that “in communities that are deemed significant mitigation areas by State and local authorities, child care programs should be closed,” but that in other areas, programs can “choose to remain open to serve children of essential workers, such as healthcare workers.”

The reopening of child care centers includes three phases—phase one would restrict care to just children of essential workers; phase two would expand to all children with enhanced social distancing measures; and phase three would open the programs for all children with social distancing measures, while promoting “healthy hygiene habits, and intensify cleaning, disinfection and ventilation.”

The CDC recommends that during phase one and two, classes should include the same group of children each day and the same child care providers, and recommend screening of children as they arrive.


As for schools, the CDC recommends that schools that are currently closed “remain closed,” while ensuring a continuation of student services, such as school meal programs. As for summer camps, the CDC draft recommends that camps be restricted to children of essential workers in phase one, with phase two welcoming children who live in the local area only. By phase three, the CDC recommends that camps restrict attendance to those from limited transmission areas.

Meanwhile, the proposal lays out guidelines for religious institutions, but according to The Post, those guidelines have been the subject of many changes in drafts.

“This guidance is not intended to infringe on First Amendment rights as provided in the US Constitution,” the CDC draft proposal says in the “Communities of Faith” section.

“The federal government may not prescribe standards for interactions of faith communities in houses of worship and no faith community should be asked to adopt any mitigation strategies that are more stringent than the mitigation strategies asked of similarly situated entities or activities in accordance with the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act,” the proposal states, adding that the CDC “offers these suggestions that faith communities may consider and accept or reject, consistent with their own faith traditions, in the court of preparing their own plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The guidelines suggest that faith communities consider limiting gatherings to those that can be held virtually or streamed online, for phase one.

For all three phases, the CDC recommends that faith communities consider temporarily limiting the sharing of prayer books and worship materials, and consider using a stationary collection box or mail or electronic payment instead of the traditional shared collection trays or baskets; and avoid or consider suspending choir or musical ensembles during religious services.

The CDC also recommends that when holding in-person services, institutions consider holding them in a large, well-ventilated area or outdoors, as circumstances and faith traditions allow, and space out seating for attendees who do not live in the same household to at least six feet apart when possible.

Meanwhile, the CDC draft proposes guidelines for “vulnerable workers” across all sectors and industries, encouraging workplaces to keep in mind that some workers are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

“These vulnerable workers include individuals over age 65 and those with underlying medical conditions,” the guidelines state. “Such underlying conditions include, but are not limited to, chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, hypertension, severe heart conditions, weakened immunity, severe obesity, diabetes, liver disease, and chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis. Vulnerable workers should be encouraged to self-identify, and employers should avoid making unnecessary medical inquiries.”

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The new guidelines extend to restaurants and bars, promoting ways to “maintain healthy business operations and a safe and healthy work environment for employees.”

The first phase recommends that bars remain closed and restaurant services remain limited to drive-through, curbside take out or delivery only with strict social distancing. Phase two would allow bars and restaurants to re-open, with limited capacity, and seating capacity that allows for social distancing. Phase three would allow bars to open with increased standing room occupancy that would allow for social distancing, and restaurants to operate while maintaining social distancing.

For restaurants, the CDC recommends that customers wait in their cars while waiting to be seated, and avoid the use of “buzzers,” switching to phone app technology when possible to alert patrons when their table is ready. The CDC also recommends that restaurants avoid self-serve food and drink options like buffets, salad bars and drink stations.

As for mass transit, the CDC recommends that phase one restrict ridership to essential critical infrastructure workers only; phase two maintain social distancing between transit riders and employees; and phase three encourage social distancing as much as possible.

The CDC specifically states that all decisions and policies based on the guidelines should be made with state and local authorities.

The draft proposal is reportedly under review by White House officials, and the CDC could release a final proposal in the coming days.

The proposed guidelines come as several states begin relaxing social distancing measures and begin phase one of the White House's guidelines to reopen the economy. The guidelines pass the decision on when to move to each phase to governors and local officials.

The Trump administration's guidelines outline what individuals, businesses, health care workers and more should do over three phases in reopening the economy, with states making it to the first phase only if they see a decrease in the number of cases within their borders over 14 days.

As of Monday, the U.S. reported nearly 1 million positive cases of COVID-19, and more than 54,800 deaths.