As the global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 200,000, countries took cautious steps toward easing lockdowns imposed amid the pandemic, but fears of a surge in infections made even some outbreak-wounded businesses reluctant to reopen.

The states of Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska started loosening restrictions on businesses despite warnings from experts that such steps might be premature.

Shawn Gingrich, CEO and founder of Lion’s Den Fitness, decided after the Georgia governor’s announcement that his Atlanta gym would remain closed for now.

“We’ve sacrificed so much already,” Gingrich said. “I feel like if we do this too soon, we’ll see a spike in cases and we’re back to square one.”

Others were eager to get back to business, with precautions.

Russ Anderson, who owns four tattoo studios in south Georgia, said he “couldn’t get up out of my chair quick enough” when restrictions were lifted. His main shop served 50 or 60 customers Friday when it reopened, with customers and tattoo artists wearing masks, he said.

The worldwide death toll was over 202,000, according to a count by John Hopkins University from government figures on Saturday. The actual death toll is believed to be far higher.

India reopened neighbourhood stores that many of the country’s 1.3 billion people rely on for everything from beverages to mobile phone data cards. But the loosening didn’t apply to hundreds of quarantined towns and other places hit hardest by the outbreak that has killed at least 775 people in the country where many poor live in slums too crowded for social distancing.

Shopping malls also stayed closed nationwide. Still, for owners of small stores, being allowed to open again brought relief.

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