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May 5 (Reuters) - Nail and hair salons along with barbershops can open in Texas on Friday, while gyms and office buildings will be allowed to open on May 18 with restrictions, Governor Greg Abbott said on Tuesday, as the state begins easing restrictions prompted by the coronavirus outbreak. Businesses will have to follow specific rules on workforce and building occupancy for the foreseeable future to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, Abbott told a news conference.
Those include reducing seating capacity to 25% and requiring people to practice social distancing where possible, such as staying 6 feet (2 m) apart.
Office workforce will be limited, in most cases, to no more than 25% of the staff and workers must practice social distancing. Abbott recommended that businesses stagger the work hours of their employees as well.
Barbers and salon workers must wear masks and gloves. Gyms must keep locker rooms and shower facilities closed and all equipment must be cleaned between each use, Abbott said.
Abbott has recommended, but not ordered, that people who are 65 or older, as well as people with medical ailments such as asthma, continue to self-isolate and go out only when necessary.
The Republican governor said residents practicing safe distancing and good hygiene and wearing masks had made possible the loosening of restrictions put in place to fight the respiratory disease COVID-19, which has killed more than 900 people in Texas. COVID-19 is caused by the novel coronavirus.
“We have slowed the spread in Texas, but the fact remains this: As it stands today, there is no cure for COVID-19,” Abbott said. (Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Bill Tarrant and Peter Cooney)