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Houston reopens with cautiously hopeful businesses

Texas on Friday began a phased-in reopening of businesses shuttered more than a month ago, with restaurants, retail stores and malls allowed to open at 25 percent capacity. A second phase is planned for May 18 if infection rates continue to decline.

Across Texas, major employers were putting plans in place to bring staff back to their offices.

Chevron Corp has not yet made decisions on timing or locations, spokesman Sean Comey said, but the oil company is working on guidelines for the restart.

About half of U.S. states, joined by some local jurisdictions, have moved toward at least partial lifting of shutdowns as the number of new COVID-19 cases began to drop or level off. Governors have been under pressure from citizens agitating for relief from the restrictions as U.S. Department of Labor data this week showed some 30 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits since March 21.

As of Friday, the number of known infections nationwide had climbed to more than 1 million, including nearly 64,000 deaths.

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