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Many businesses cautious about restarting economy amid virus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — President Donald Trump wants the country open for business by mid-April, but some experts warn it's not as easy as flipping a switch: Economies run on confidence, and that is likely to be in short supply for as long as coronavirus cases in the United States are still rising.

Trump this week said he wants businesses “opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” which falls on April 12. That contradicts many public health experts, who warn that restrictions should only be lifted gradually and once more data about infection rates is available. They expect efforts to curb the disease will continue for several months at least.

Despite wild swings in financial markets and signs that unemployment is surging — both of which could hurt Trump in an election year — many businesses say it's not clear that reopening will be even an option in a few weeks: They have to follow the orders set in each state, and many of those are open ended or could be extended at any time. They are worried that opening too soon could be seen as irresponsible. And even if they did reopen, would customers come if the virus isn't under control?

“He’s not being realistic. How can you open if the cases are climbing day after day?” asked Paul Boutros, who owns East Side Pockets, a small restaurant that has lost most of its business since nearby Brown University sent students home two weeks ago.