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Tyler Cowen

America’s Reopening Will Depend on One Thing: Trust

Businesses and their customers will need to have faith in each other.

Trusting a clean counter.

Trusting a clean counter.

Photographer: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images North America

As America’s economic reopening fitfully proceeds, it is becoming clear that it will require a precious resource often in short supply: trust. Americans are about to see a new referendum on how strong is the glue that holds them together.

Should you show up again for work? It depends how much you trust the pronouncements of your employer that the work space will be safe. Should you send your children back to school? That depends on how much you trust the school system. Should you go to that block party? It depends on much you trust your neighbors about where they’ve been and who they’ve seen.