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Opening churches, stores a priority for Americans, poll says

Times Square, New York, coronavirus
A deserted Times Square in New York City during the coronavirus outbreak. |

A new survey shows that Americans want gathering in homes and churches to be allowed right away when the lockdown ends.

Asked to prioritize the reopening of various activities and whether it should happen right away, half of the respondents said that allowing people to gather in small groups at someone’s home should happen right away, and 35 percent said churches and other religious gatherings should be opened, according to a Scott Rasmussen survey.

Thirty-five percent also said that reopening retail stores is a top priority for them and  31 percent said the same about schools.

Only 21 percent felt that reopening bars and restaurants should happen right away and 14 percent said the same about major league sports events and stadium concerts.

The study of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from April 9 to 11.

“These results suggest that voters are interested in the broader questions of reopening society, rather than narrow concerns about the economy,” the survey report remarks.

The poll shows significant partisan differences in the priorities of Americans. “The most dramatic concerns the reopening of churches and religious services,” it says. “Forty-seven percent of Republicans believe that should be a top priority while only 29 percent of Democrats agree.”

In a survey conducted a week earlier, Rasmussen found that 23 percent say that the biggest impact they have felt from the pandemic is boredom, depression and isolation.

A survey released Saturday by Rasmussen suggests that more Americans (45 percent) think that the nation will suffer through a long recession when the lockdown ends than those who believe the economy will bounce back quickly (34 percent).

“It’s important to note that these dynamics are broadly consistent with pre-pandemic attitudes,” the poll noted. “Republicans were far more optimistic about the economy, Democrats more pessimistic, and Independent voters in between.”

President Donald Trump last week announced plans for states to gradually end the lockdown and allow businesses to reopen, beginning with states that are not hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are opening up our country. And we have to do that,” Trump said during a coronavirus briefing at the White House. “Americans want to be open. As I have said for some time now, a national shutdown is not a sustainable long-term solution.”

He explained, “To preserve the health of our citizens, we must also preserve the health and functioning of our economy. Over the long haul, you can’t do one without the other. It cannot be done. To keep vital supply chains running, they have to be taken care of. The balance is delicate. We want to deliver food and medical supply. We must have a working economy, and we want to get it back very, very quickly. And that’s what is going to happen. I believe it will boom.”

Trump’s plan involves three phases. In the first phase, gyms, restaurants, sports venues and theaters would reopen with necessary precautions and social distancing still in place. The second phase would allow non-essential travel and reopening of schools and bars with precautionary measures. And the third and the final phase would lift restrictions on vulnerable people and allow people to return to work.

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