Opening Statement

By Marty Stern and Greg Chabon          

Back in March, when we launched our COVID-19 state closure orders mapping project,, we observed that state business closure orders, and their related stay at home orders, had been coming at a fast and furious pace.  Among the key questions then were distinctions tied to essential and non-essential businesses, the social distancing and other safety-related requirements imposed on businesses that maintained operations, and navigating travel restrictions on workers.  In particular, companies struggled with whether they could be considered “essential.”

The states and the country are now moving into a new phase – reopening businesses and getting everyone back to work, albeit generally in a limited fashion, and the mapping project has shifted its focus to the reopening orders that now are coming at a fast and furious pace.  What we’re seeing is that, unlike the state closure orders that had many common elements and could be easily categorized, the state reopening orders vary significantly in approach.

To help our clients and colleagues navigate the rapidly evolving reopening process, we are today launching State Reopenings: The Blog, which will include posts providing a little bit more of a deeper dive or different perspectives (including industry perspectives) on particular states and particular reopening issues, with our continued focus on the business impacts of these statewide order.  We will continue to provide links to key documents and highlights in our interactive map, and have also introduced a new color coded scheme to reflect that reopening in most states will be a process, with a partial reopening stage, before the state flips to fully reopened – the green states on our map (which now includes those states that never issued business closure orders).

In terms of process, one of things we are seeing is states forming regional “pacts” recognizing the regional impacts and interdependencies of the pandemic, with advancing stages of reopening when particular benchmarks or targets are hit.  Our inaugural post by our Irvine, California colleague, Nikku Khalifian, focuses on the newly formed Western States Pact, and reviews the phased but very different reopening approaches of California, Washington, Nevada, Colorado and Oregon.

We also invite you to visit our COVID-19 Hub, Navigating the Legal Challenges of COVID-19 for more information and analysis across a wide variety of areas of interest.

Thank you for taking the time to examine with us this evolving and unpredictable COVID-19 reopening landscape.  We invite you send your thoughts and comments to covidmap@wbd-us.