Georgia Governor Brian Kemp provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 during a press conference Monday afternoon. However, he did not say whether he would extend the statewide shelter-in-place order, which is set to expire on Thursday, April 30, at 11:59 p.m. The governor plans on making decisions over the “next couple of days” to determine what life for the public will look like going forward into May, especially if the order is allowed to expire Thursday.
The current order permits people to continue with outdoor activities and to leave their homes for essential medical appointments, to gas up their cars, or to procure food and supplies. Social distancing of six feet or more must be adhered to in public, when not with members of a single household.
Restaurants are now allowed to resume dine-in service, as long as owners and employees meet a list of 39 required guidelines to achieve what Gov. Kemp refers to as “minimum basic operations.” He reiterated that bars, nightclubs, sports stadiums, and amusement parks across the state will remain closed until further notice, and “medically fragile” people should continue to shelter at home through at least May 13. Businesses like gyms, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, and bowling alleys reopened on Friday, April 24.
“Georgians have been heeding the advice of our public health officials and our law enforcement to ensure the health and wellbeing of customers and workers, but we will continue to monitor compliance and every region of the state,” Gov. Kemp said in the briefing.
He stressed that the reopening of certain businesses, including restaurants, is not mandated by the state, and he “trusts Georgians to meet the guidelines” or to choose not to resume business at this time.
But for businesses like hair salons and restaurants, maintaining the CDC-recommended six foot distance between people is not easily achieved. It’s a dangerous disadvantage in terms of operating safely during the ongoing pandemic, even with following state-mandated guidelines.
“There are differing opinions on how best to tackle the COVID-19 virus and how we reopen parts of our economy, the path forward to ensure a safer, stronger, and more prosperous future for our state,” Kemp said when asked about the criticism he’s faced over his reopening plan. This includes President Donald Trump, who said last Thursday he “disagree strongly” with Gov. Kemp’s decision to open certain businesses in Georgia he deemed “in violation of the phase one guidelines” set forth by his administration.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has widely criticized the decision to allow businesses like spas and hair and nail salons to reopen and restaurants to resume dine-in service. Following the governor’s press conference last Monday, the mayor told ABC News Prime she was unsure of the data Gov. Kemp referenced to make his controversial decision to lift statewide restrictions on certain businesses, asking Atlanta residents to continue to remain home.
The governor’s latest executive order supersedes any similar orders mandated on the local level, leaving leaders like Mayor Bottoms struggling with how to safely reopen a city of over 500,000 residents.
As of 7 p.m. Monday, 24,225 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Georgia, with just over 1,000 reported deaths. The next update takes place on Tuesday at 12 p.m.
Stay home if sick. Check the Georgia Department of Public Health website for guidance and twice-daily updates on the latest number of reported COVID-19 cases.