As Coronavirus Restrictions Ease, Many Still Wary As local officials begin lifting coronavirus stay-at-home orders, individuals also consider what feels safe to them. We asked people around the country how they will make those decisions.

As Coronavirus Restrictions Ease, Many Still Wary

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


As some places around the country begin lifting stay-at-home orders, individuals face their own decisions about whether it feels safe to resume their normal activities. We asked NPR listeners to tell us how they're making these decisions, and about 250 people responded. NPR's Jeff Brady has this story.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: In general, it's clear that even as local officials lift restrictions, many people plan to wait longer before resuming their old routines.

NAOMI SILAS: As long as there's new cases, I think we - you know, it's not really safe.

BRADY: Naomi Silas is a freelance graphic designer and graduate student in Grand Rapids, Mich. A stay-at-home order in her state was extended until the middle of this month with some changes. Golfing and boating are allowed now. But Silas says even going to a park with her 8-year-old son doesn't feel comfortable yet.

SILAS: Because there's just too many people, and you can never be, like, too sure. Like, I think especially, like, when the weather is really nice here in Michigan, like, people get kind of careless.

BRADY: In Montana, Governor Steve Bullock's stay-at-home order expired this past week. Businesses can open if they follow physical distancing and other guidelines. Still, on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, Camille Stein is taking more precautions than Montana recommends. That means more hours at home with her three daughters.

CAMILLE STEIN: My kids play sports year-round, so we're always on the go. We're always busy. It was actually really nice for us to have that time.

BRADY: Stein plans to maintain restrictions for a few weeks and monitor the number of COVID-19 cases. She's even looking ahead to the summer, when her daughters usually are swimming.

STEIN: That's something we're kind of looking at, too, we're nervous about. And would we even want to send our kids, you know, to swimming?

BRADY: Some NPR listeners tell us they haven't had the luxury of sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Marnie Shale lives in Bloomington, Ind., and was stocking grocery shelves even as other businesses were closed.

MARNIE SHALE: People were not staying home from the grocery store. In fact, it was extremely crowded. So I was, you know, on my knees, and people are above me, reaching over to get things. So I thought, well, I'm not isolated to begin with.

BRADY: Shale also is a nurse and plans to start a new job at a long-term care facility soon. Without the ability to shelter in place, she looks forward to eating out in restaurants again. The only things she's not comfortable doing are longer-distance travel such as flying or taking a cruise. In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp was one of the last to issue stay-at-home orders, and he's among the first to reopen businesses, including nail and hair salons.

REGINA ELLIS: I wasn't pleased with, you know, the decision to open us back up.

BRADY: Regina Ellis owns Esuites salon in Albany, Ga. She knows people who have died from the coronavirus. While she's sympathetic to workers who need to earn a living, she's watching infection rates and plans to wait a few more weeks before going back to work herself. Ellis says her customers understand.

ELLIS: They don't want to come to the salon just to look good - to look good in a casket.

BRADY: The state of Arizona also is starting to lift restrictions. South of Phoenix in the city of Casa Grande, Episcopal priest Dave Rickert says he's sticking with online-only services for now.

DAVE RICKERT: I'm going to be super-conservative. I'm going to go a couple Sundays, let my sister and brother parishes kind of be guinea pigs.

BRADY: Rickert says when it feels safe to resume services, he's thinking about changes such as removing some pews to create more distance between people. Across the country, decisions governors make get a lot of attention. But it's clear that millions of individual decisions also will determine how quickly we all return to our normal routines.

Jeff Brady, NPR News.


Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.