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Back in business: Missouri governor says most businesses can reopen from virus shutdown on May 4

Back in business: Missouri governor says most businesses can reopen from virus shutdown on May 4

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JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday most businesses would be able to reopen their doors when the state begins to loosen restrictions on movement early next month.

Until May 4, Parson said at his daily briefing, the current state stay-at-home order remained in effect. And he said Franklin County, where officials plan to loosen restrictions this weekend, is still be under the state order.

"We're working on the policy and the guidelines for that, but I will tell you almost every business in the state of Missouri will be able to open their doors," Parson said. "People will go back to work. There'll be some guidelines we'll have with that but the majority of them will be open."

He said continued social distancing would be key during the state's reopening process.

"Social distancing is going to be important," Parson said.

"Franklin County has to make some of their own decisions," Parson said, adding that county rules can be more stringent than state rules, but not less stringent.

"So, Franklin County's still under the state order and they'll have to follow those guidelines," Parson said.

Missouri's stay-at-home order gives local officials the ability to determine what are essential services, but still outlines other requirements such as limiting gatherings to 10 people and requiring six feet of separation between people.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said in a Wednesday afternoon briefing that even as Parson loosens statewide restrictions, the city can continue to keep stricter social distancing measures in place.

Most of the state’s confirmed cases are in the St. Louis region, Krewson said, which means the city’s response will likely be different than areas where the virus has not yet spread as widely.

Parson also said his administration was planning to put "a couple more Democrats" on an informal working group that will offer advice on how to spend billions of dollars in federal stimulus money. There had been no Democrats on the panel.

State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, who is leading the working group, said Wednesday that state Sen. Karla May, D-St. Louis, and Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, would join the panel.

Parson also said Wednesday the state launched a tool, developed by Google, allowing health care providers to connect with manufacturers of personal protective equipment.

The governor said hospitals, health care providers and first responders would soon have the opportunity to use the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System "to safety decontaminate" up to 80,000 protective N95 masks per day.

Parson's office said the federal government fully paid for the system.

Erin Heffernan of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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