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“Despite mixed messages from Washington, despite concern over a possible second wave of the virus, stay-at-home restrictions are being lifted,” he said.
But Varney said reopening the economy and resuming normal life bears the question: Will Americans show up for businesses once reopened? Will customers go for a haircut or hop on a flight for a business trip?
“How do you feel about going back to the office?” he asked. “And if you do go back to your desk, will you still get into group conversations around the proverbial water cooler?”
Varney said the answer all depends on how severely Americans are itching to leave their homes.
“It all depends on the anxiety level, how much we need a paycheck and how much cabin fever we are feeling,” he said. “Those who want to get out and make a living again are going to get out and make a living again, as soon as they can.”
Varney said in some states, like Georgia, restrictions are coming off quickly even though President Trump disagrees. Maryland is set to announce its reopening plan tomorrow, he said, and California plans to allow some elective surgery.
“The gates are opening, the restrictions are coming off,” he said. “The lockdown is loosening.”
Varney said he is expecting different levels of “back-to-work enthusiasm,” where Americans in rural areas are most eager and members of older communities could wait a bit longer.
The warmer weather as summer inches closer, Varney said, will be another driving factor for Americans to leave their homes. People shut in with children will be called by the “appeal of sunshine” and the attractiveness of the great outdoors, he said.
“But once back-to-work gets rolling, it may become a flood,” he said. “Especially if we find that the virus has a fatality rate roughly equivalent to the flu. And especially in businesses in danger of bankruptcy."