Via Financial Times

Texas and Ohio take steps to restart economies

Matthew Rocco in New York

Texas will not renew its stay-at-home order after it expires on Thursday, adding to a growing list of US states that have taken steps to relax coronavirus-related shutdowns.

The state — whose economy ranks second among the largest in the US behind California — will allow businesses to reopen in stages beginning on Friday, when restaurants, bars, retail stores and movie theatres can open with occupancy initially capped at 25 per cent. Occupancy will expand to 50 per cent on May 18 in the second phase of the state’s reopening plan.

State-licensed health care professionals will be allowed to reopen their offices at the start of May with certain precautions. Hospitals must reserve at least 15 per cent of their capacity for Covid-19 patients.

“We’re not just going to open up and hope for the best,” governor Greg Abbott said on Monday. “Opening Texas must occur in phases.”

During the first phase of the plan, seniors and other “vulnerable populations” should remain home as much as possible, he said.

The moves detailed on Monday came after Texas reopened state parks and allowed retailers to offer curbside pick-up last week.

Ohio governor Mike DeWine also announced a plan to gradually restart the state’s economy.

General offices, manufacturers, distribution centers and construction companies will be able to open on May 4. Retail stores and other consumer businesses, such as barber shops and salons, can open on May 12. Dine-in service at restaurants and bars will remain closed.

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Medical facilities can resume elective procedures on Friday if patients do not need to stay overnight.

Mr DeWine noted that employers must maintain social-distancing protocols and sanitise workplaces. The state will make face coverings for employees mandatory.