Public Health

When will gyms, restaurants, and hair salons reopen? Timeline in 50 states

Khang T. Vuong, MHA
Khang T. Vuong, MHA12 Jul 2021

Written by Jacqueline Slobin and Khang Vuong

What are the stages of reopening?

Beginning in mid-March, schools, businesses, and other operations have been put on hold to slow the spread of COVID-19. As each state begins the process of reopening, they need to consider testing and contact tracing, coronavirus deaths, hospital capacity, and implement a plan. Most reopening plans are set to occur in three main stages in order to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Here is a brief summary of what types of businesses will reopen in each phase:

Phase One

  • Elective surgeries may resume with facilities that adhere to CDC guidelines
  • Gyms may reopen with strict physical distance and cleaning protocols. Large gyms, such as Planet Fitness or LA Fitness, may need to limit occupancy and spread out equipment as well

Phase Two

  • Schools and recreational programs, such as summer camps, can reopen
  • Larger restaurants, movie theaters, sporting venues and religious centers can reopen with physical distance protocols
  • Bars may reopen with physical distance protocols and at lower occupancy

Phase Three

  • Nursing homes may reopen for in-person visitation under some hygienic protocols

What are essential and non-essential businesses?

As most states implemented stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19, many businesses were mandated to temporarily close or shorten their hours. While definitions of essential and non-essential businesses differ across states and cities, the Department of Homeland Security released general guidelines regarding the difference between essential and nonessential differences.

Essential businesses generally include health care facilities, supermarkets, pharmacies, and food banks, while nonessential businesses include salons, museums, and theaters.


What will reopening look like for some of these businesses?

Fast Food Restaurants

Wendy‚s, Chick-fil-A, and Shake Shack are planning on reopening with the implementation of sanitation stations, markers on the floor indicating a suggested distance to keep between customers, and increased take-out options. Some fast food restaurants have been opening across the United States since late-April. Waffle House, BJ‚s and Apple Bee‚s have been implementing a variety of policies that include employees wearing masks, keeping 6 ft distance from customers, and regular sanitation.

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Restaurants with Dining Rooms

As sit down restaurants begin to reopen, they will be mandated to limit the maximum capacity in their space at one time. This may pose an economic problem for restaurants and other small businesses, as they will not be able to generate sufficient revenue at only 25-50% capacity. Additionally, many business owners may choose to continue with take-out only for liability reasons. When they do reopen, sit down restaurants will likely be using disposable menus, single use condiments, and possibly sneeze guards.


Since their closure, large chain fitness centers like LifeTime and Class Pass have been creating extensive plans for reopening. Once gyms reopen, class sizes will likely be downsized, there will be more frequent cleaning, masks may be mandated, and temperatures may be taken before entering. The plans vary by gym, but it is important to be cognizant of the risks when working out. Some experts suggest that individuals should wear face coverings and bring their own disinfectants even if the gym does not require this.

Hair and Nail Salons

Like gyms, salon owners have been working on safe plans for reopening for the past several months. Warren Tricomi and Natura Spa are two salons that have created plans for a safe and smooth reopening. Some of the safety precautions that salons will take are having every customer and employee wear a face covering, use disposable hair brushes and nail clippers, and have employees sit behind a plastic shield. Many salons will also only take appointments, rather than walk-in clients, at first and have customers wait in their car until their seat has been sanitized.


State-by-state Guidance for Reopening

Some states have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. Their plans for reopening restaurants, shops, and other businesses can be heard daily on the local news and are briefly described below. This data was updated on July 1st 2020:

New York

  • Reopening plans are phased by regions and were put into effect on May 15th - all regions except New York City are currently in phase 3
  • New York City is scheduled to enter phase 3 on July 6th without indoor dining allowed
  • Gyms are still closed, but many retail stores, restaurants that offer outdoor dining, and salons have reopened at limited capacity

New Jersey

  • New Jersey is currently in phase 2 of reopening with many restaurants, day care facilities, and stores opening at limited capacity
  • Casinos, arcades, bowling alleys, and museums will be permitted to reopen on July 2nd with a 25% maximum capacity
  • Gyms are still closed, but one-on-one personal training sessions are permitted


  • As of June 26th, Illinois is in its 4th stage of its 5-phase reopening plan
  • In phase 4, most gyms, breweries, salons, theaters, libraries, and religious facilities are permitted to open at 25% capacity; however, playgrounds remain closed
  • Once Illinois enters phase 5, all of the aforementioned services will be able to open without limited capacity 
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  • As of June 22nd, Massachusetts is in phase 2 of its 4-stage reopening plan
  • Indoor dining and salons are permitted to reopen and offices can increase their maximum capacity to 50%
  • The reopening of tanning salons, tattoo parlors, and personal training facilities is underway


  • As of June 12th, California is in phase 3 of its 4-stage reopening plan
  • Venues such as movies theaters, breweries, retail stores and gyms are permitted to reopen under social distancing protocols
  • Large gatherings such as concerts and sports venues are not open 


  • The state has been divided into ‚Äúred‚Äù, ‚Äúorange‚Äù,  ‚Äúyellow" and "green" zones based on the severity of the outbreak in each region
  • As of June 26th, almost all regions have entered the green phases
  • Some businesses are allowed to operate at 75% capacity, dine-in services are permitted, and barber shops are reopening in green zones
  • Large gatherings are still not permitted in green regions 


  • Michigan is currently in stage 4 of reopening and delayed moving to state 5 due to recent spikes in cases
  • Retail, restaurants, outdoor recreation, and salons have reopened with distancing protocols
  • Due to the recent spike in cases, distancing and wearing masks is recommended 


  • Due to a recent spike in cases, some bars have been ordered to close and indoor dining has been reduced to 50% capacity
  • The threshold for outdoor gatherings has been reduced from 500 to 100 people
  • Other stores and facilities are still remaining open with social distancing guidelines in place 


  • Due to recent spikes in cases, bar owners have been asked to stop selling alcoholic beverages and several bars have been shut down
  • Salons, retail stores, museums, libraries, and recreational centers remain open under distancing and sanitation protocols 


  • Indoor dining, gyms, and casinos have been permitted to reopen under distancing protocols and 50% capacity
  • Outdoor amusement and activities is also permitted to reopen under 50% capacity
  • Bars and theaters remain closed


Wearing a mask and reopening dates for non-essential businesses

As many states begin to reopen nonessential businesses, it is crucial that you continue to practice social distancing and wear a mask. The CDC recommends that a cloth face covering is worn when you are exposed to individuals who are not part of your household. Wearing a mask in a public settings helps reduce the spread of coronavirus and is especially important in regions that are seeing peaks in cases. Note: a mask is not a replacement for social distancing and masks should not be worn by young children or individuals with breathing problems. For more information on when your state may see a peak in coronavirus cases, see our article When Will Coronavirus Peak and End- Data from 50 states.

According to, as of May 15th, 2020, some states announced dates for allowing  non-essential businesses to gradually reopen with social distancing in place:

  • April 24, 2020: Alaska, Oklahoma
  • April 27, 2020: Tennessee, Montana, Colorado, Mississippi
  • April 29, 2020: Wisconsin
  • April 30, 2020: Alabama, new Mexico
  • May 1, 2020: Nevada, Idaho, maine, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa
  • May 2, 2020, New Jersey
  • May 4, 2020: Puerto Rico, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio
  • May 7, 2020: Michigan
  • May 8, 2020: Pennsylvania, Delaware, North Carolina
  • May 11, 2020: Kentucky New Hampshire
  • May 15, 2020: Maryland



Khang T. Vuong, MHA

Khang T. Vuong received his Master of Healthcare Administration from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. He was named Forbes Healthcare 2021 30 under 30. Vuong spoke at Stanford Medicine X, HIMSS conference, and served as a Fellow at the Bon Secours Health System.