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Retail

Michigan to loosen coronavirus curbs, allow larger gatherings

(Reuters) - The U.S. state of Michigan on Tuesday announced a loosening of its coronavirus restrictions, allowing larger gatherings and easing limits on capacity for restaurants and other businesses.

A man wearing a protective face mask due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak walks by a closed establishment in Flint, Michigan, U.S., October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The relaxation comes as reported infections in the state decline.

The revised state health department order will take effect on Friday and last through to April 19.

Restrictions on inside seating for restaurants and bars will be raised to 50% of capacity, or a maximum 100 people, from 25%, the order from the state health department said.

A 10 p.m. curfew will shift to 11 p.m., according to the order.

The capacity of gyms will be 30% instead of 25% while retail stores will have a limit of 50% capacity, up from 25%.

Venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys and banquet halls will be able to have up to 300 patrons within any distinct space inside or 1,000 outside.

“The increased capacity limits outlined in this order will still give us the ability to protect public health as we carefully track variants and continue leading with science and data”, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said on Tuesday in a press briefing.

Michigan has reported over 590,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and recorded over 15,500 thousand deaths from the outbreak. The United States has recorded over 500,000 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.

The state of Louisiana also eased indoor dining restrictions, with Governor Bel Edwards saying that restaurants, malls and most other businesses will be allowed 75% capacity while gatherings in indoor event halls will be allowed up to 50% capacity or up to 250 people.

"Following improvements in Louisiana's COVID case counts and a sustained decrease in COVID-related hospitalizations, Louisiana will move forward to Phase 3 with adjustments", the state's governor said in a tweet bit.ly/2NOVNSY on Tuesday.

Separately, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued the most sweeping rollback of coronavirus restrictions of any U.S. state on Tuesday, lifting a mask mandate and saying most businesses may open at full capacity next week.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes and Giles Elgood

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