- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 29, 2020

President Trump said Wednesday his target date for reopening the country is “as soon as possible,” and called for a return to full-capacity restaurants and sports stadiums — and campaign rallies — even before a coronavirus vaccine is developed.

“We want it to be the way it was,” Mr. Trump said during a meeting with business leaders at the White House. “We can’t have somebody with half a restaurant. That’s not going to pay the rent.”

He expressed optimism that the virus “will be gone” with or without a vaccine.

“Now, we’re going to wait until it’s gone,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s going to go. It will be eradicated.”

But he added, “I don’t want people to get used to” social distancing.

“You’re not going to have a stadium that’s 30% of the size of what it was three months ago,” Mr. Trump said. “We want it to be the way it was.”

The president said he’ll travel to Arizona for an event at a business next week, his first excursion out of the White House in nearly two months. And he expressed the desire to hold packed campaign rallies before long.

“Hopefully in the not-too-distant future we’ll have some massive rallies and people will be sitting next to each other,” Mr. Trump said. “I can’t imagine a rally where you every fourth seat full. I hope that we’re going to be able to do some good old-fashioned 25,000 person rallies, where everyone’s going wild because they love our country.”

Current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call for social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus, including, “Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.”

The president cited encouraging medical data showing the rates of hospitalization and infection are lowering in most areas of the country.

Asked by a reporter if people observing states’ stay-at-home orders are responsible for the encouraging data, Mr. Trump replied, “Maybe that’s it. If you stay at home, you’re not catching it.”

Then the president added, “But they want to go out now. They want to do what they have to do. Some of the facts are coming out.”

The president said his target date for states to reopen is “as soon as possible.”

“We have a number of them opening up Monday. Ultimately we want to be back to 100%,” he said.

Thirty-five states have released formal plans for reopening gradually, Vice President Mike Pence said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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