Texas and Ohio pushed ahead on Friday with a phased relaxation of restrictions that U.S. states put in place weeks ago to curb the coronavirus pandemic, as Georgia took another step toward a full restart by allowing all businesses to reopen, Reuters informs.
With White House guidelines for reopening having expired on Thursday, half of all U.S. states were forging ahead with a patchwork of strategies to allow businesses, from restaurants and retailers to construction and manufacturing, to emerge from a month of dormancy.
In Texas, one of the most populous U.S. states, all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls could resume activity on Friday while limiting capacity to 25% of their listed occupancy, on orders of Governor Greg Abbott.
Ohio will start by allowing non-essential surgeries on Friday and then move to open construction and manufacturing on Monday, and retail shops and many consumer services on May 12, Governor Mike DeWine said earlier this week.
States are feeling enormous pressure to reopen businesses and restore social life, despite a lack of wide-scale virus testing and other safeguards urged by health experts, as the outbreak appears to have waned across many parts of the country.
No companies are required to reopen and it was unclear how many business owners and their employees would return to work, and how many patrons would venture back into stores and restaurants.
U.S. Labor Department data released on Thursday showed some 30 million Americans had sought unemployment benefits since March 21. The jobless toll amounts to more than 18.4% of the U.S. working-age population, a level not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.