Mississippi eases some coronavirus restrictions as “safer-at-home” order goes into effect

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Some Mississippi shopkeepers will start reopening their retail businesses on Monday as Gov. Tate Reeves begins easing restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor’s stay-at-home order that has been in place since the evening of April 3 is expiring Monday morning. It is replaced with his new “safer at home” order, which still requires medically vulnerable people to remain home but allows more movement by others.

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Reeves said people are still banned from gathering in groups of 10 or more, and they are still required to maintain distance of at least 6 feet from one another.

Stores in Mississippi are supposed to allow no more than 50% of their capacity of customers at a time, under the new order. And not all business are being allowed to reopen. Gyms, barber shops, hair and nail salons and tattoo parlors are among those remaining closed, the governor said.

Dentists and physicians can again start offering elective medical procedures.

“This disease has not hit every American fairly. It is particularly cruel to some,” Republican Reeves said Saturday in a message posted on Facebook.

“And the economic damage has not hit every American fairly,” he said. “It has been particularly cruel to the working class: Those people who work on their feet. Those people who don’t have a home office or paid leave. Those people who come home with callouses on their hands—because they did a hard day’s work for an honest day’s pay.”

Public school buildings are closed for the rest of the spring semester, but Reeves has said he wants students and teachers to continue with distance learning efforts.

The state Health Department said Sunday that Mississippi had at least 5,911 confirmed cases and 227 deaths from the coronavirus as of Saturday evening. That was an increase of 193 cases and six deaths from the previous day. The state’s population is about 3 million.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.

The Health Department said Sunday at least 637 coronavirus cases had been confirmed by Saturday at long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. It also said nearly 60,788 coronavirus tests had been done in Mississippi as of Saturday.

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