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Some Missouri businesses reopen with COVID-19 precautions

WASHINGTON, Mo. (AP) — Some businesses near St. Louis are reopening with some safety measures in place, after local officials lifted restrictions meant to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The relaxation of Franklin County’s order allowed golf courses, movie theaters, concert halls, gyms, fitness studios, tanning salons, bowling alleys and skating rinks to reopen Saturday as long as they adhere to social-distancing guidelines, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

At Anytime Fitness in Washington, business was running at about 20 percent of a normal Saturday because of the statewide limit keeping gatherings to 10 or fewer people at a time, said Sean Leslie, one of the owners. Classes haven’t resumed because it would put the gym over the limit.

Leslie said he wasn’t charging customers because it didn’t feel right when he couldn’t open fully. He said he had reopened the business because, “This makes the members happy.”

Kia Herbst, one of those members, said, “It’s like a part of you is missing.” Hebrst, who is 16 weeks pregnant, said her family knew how important working out was for her mental and physical well-being.

The businesses had been closed since March 24, and Franklin County Commissioner Tim Brinker said the reaction to the new guidelines had been positive.

Several gyms said that they would wait until May 4, when Gov. Mike Parson said he would allow most businesses to reopen. Parson said rules governing that reopening would be released Monday.

The Nothing Fancy skating rink near Union was dark on Saturday afternoon.

Two county movie theaters both cited the state’s 10-person limit, adding that they also lacked new movies to show. After most states shuttered movie theaters, many new releases were diverted to on-demand and streaming services.

Washington Mayor Sandy Lucy said in an email to the newspaper that the majority of city businesses would be waiting until May 4 to reopen, although a few gyms planned to do so before then.

As of Sunday, health officials reported that 274 people in Missouri had died of COVID-19 and that there had been 6,997 confirmed cases of the disease.

The actual number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest that people can be infected without feeling sick.

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