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States see coronavirus tension as some start lifting stay-at-home orders, others stay put

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Some states across the country are beginning to lift stringent stay-at-home orders in an effort to reopen their economies after several weeks of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The biggest leap to resume normalcy out of any other state is Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen businesses in Texas, even allowing retail stores, restaurants and movie theaters to open up to customers — albeit at a limited capacity — starting on Friday, May 1.

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Texas has the country’s second-largest economy behind California but like much of the country has seen the crippling effects of prolonged lockdowns due the spread of COVID-19. Texas has had the 10th highest number of coronavirus infections in the country and continues to grapple with 25,292 cases.

Despite this, Abbott said businesses will be allowed to accommodate customers at 25 percent capacity, but everyone is advised to abide by social distancing rules.

Bars, barbershops, hair salons and gyms, however, will remain closed.

In Tennessee, Georgia and Alaska, restaurants began reopening to dine-in customers, with new rules such as temperature checks at the door and logging of customer information for possible contact tracing.

In Alaska, Gov. Mike Dunleavy is requiring that restaurants only take customers with reservations and only allow members of the same family to share tables. Some stores, hair and nail salons and other businesses were on the shortlist to reopen as well.

Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, faced vocal pushback from President Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the White House’s coronavirus task force team as they attempted to dissuade him from implementing sweeping reopenings of businesses across the state. Despite the warnings, Kemp forged ahead and has allowed movie theatres, dine-in restaurants, gyms, hair and nail salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors to reopen with restrictions.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, allowed his state’s restaurants to take dine-in customers for the first time on Monday following lockdown, despite Tennessee reporting its biggest one-day jump in confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic. One restaurant was checking the temperature of customers at the door.

Alabama, Oklahoma and Utah will also allow restaurants to have dine-in customers, while states such as Missouri, South Carolina, Vermont and Montana moved to open other non-essential businesses such as churches, stores, and flea markets with precautions to heed social distancing rules.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted bans on going to the beach and says he is considering additional ease on lockdown restrictions over the coming weeks.

In other states, the return to normalcy seems further away and, in some cases, exceedingly more complicated.

In Illinois, a judge issued a temporary injunction against Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday after he extended his state’s lockdown to May 30. Pritzker has ordered that everyone wear a face mask when in public and sustained that all nonessential businesses remain closed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Governors in several states, such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and others, that were hardest hit by the virus, are looking to beef up contact tracing and amplify testing before confidently easing their state’s restrictions.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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