Kemp to allow certain businesses to reopen Friday

Published 6:24 pm Monday, April 20, 2020

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp laid the groundwork Monday for some businesses in the state to reopen by the end of the week.

Kemp announced that gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors are among businesses that may reopen Friday. However, those businesses must follow strict social distancing and hygiene requirements. Kemp said many of those businesses haven’t been able to perform basic business functions during the shelter-in-place order.

“In the same way that we carefully closed businesses and urged operations to end to mitigate the virus spread, today, we are announcing plans to incrementally and safely reopen sectors of our economy,” Kemp said. 

The governor went further by allowing restaurants to reopen dine-in services next Monday. Theatres and private social clubs will also be allowed to reopen Monday. Bars, nightclubs, live venues and amusement parks are still ordered to be closed until further notice.

However, Kemp said the businesses being allowed to operate again are not doing so in the fashion they did so before.

“Each of these entities will be subject to specific restrictions, including adherence to the minimum basic operations, social distancing and regular sanitation,” Kemp said.

Those minimum basic operations include screening workers for fever and respiratory illness, providing a sanitary workplace, wearing gloves and a mask if needed, separating workspaces by six feet and continuing to work from home if possible. Kemp said it also means implementing staggered shifts and maintaining all social distancing protocols where possible.

“We will get Georgians back to work safely without undermining the progress that we all have made in this battle against COVID-19,” Kemp said.

Churches and places of worship are allowed to host in-person services, but Kemp said it must be done with strict social distancing guidelines.

“I urge faith leaders to continue to help us with the effort to keep their congregation safe by heeding the advice of public health officials,” he said.

Kemp said online and call-in services remain a good option for religious institutions.

He said the measures announced Monday will apply statewide and will be “operational standard.”

“This means local action cannot be taken that is more or less restrictive,” Kemp said. 

Although Monday’s announcement was a step forward for reopening businesses in the state, Kemp said the shelter-in-place order is still active until 11:59 a.m. on April 30.

For medically fragile and elderly Georgians, Kemp said to make plans to shelter in place at least through May 13, when the state’s public health emergency expires.

“While I am encouraged by the data, proud of what we have accomplished and confident of our plan moving forward, I know that the journey ahead is long,” Kemp said. 

“We must remain laser-focused on defeating this virus and keeping Georgians safe. We must find ways to revitalize communities devastated by COVID-19. We must identify opportunities for economic growth and prosperity.”