Georgia will allow movie theaters and restaurants to reopen on April 27, the governor announced on Monday.
Gov. Brian Kemp said the state was “on track” to meet the criteria for “Phase 1” of the process of reopening the state by next week. Kemp said businesses would have to observe social distancing, screen workers for illness and enhance sanitation.
“Subject to the specific social distancing and sanitation mandates, theaters, private social clubs and restaurant dine-in services will be allowed to reopen on Monday, April 27,” Kemp said.
Gyms, fitness centers, barber shops, hair salons, and nail salons, will also be allowed to open on April 24. Kemp said Georgians will be allowed to attend church services, though he advised that church-goers would also have to observe social distancing, and suggested that call-in, and online services “remains a good option.”
Live performance venues, amusement parks, bars and nightclubs will remain closed.
“By taking this measured action, we will get Georgians back to work safely, without undermining the progress we all have made in this battle against COVID-19,” Kemp said.
The state has confirmed 18,947 cases of COVID-19, with 733 deaths, for a death rate of 3.8%. Kemp said documented cases have “flattened, and appear to be declining.”
For most Georgians, the “shelter in place” order will be lifted on April 30, though Kemp advised that residents continue to exercise caution. He also said that elderly and medically fragile residents should make plans to stay sheltered in place through May 13.
“I will say that, when we have more people moving around we probably will see our cases continue to go up, but we’re a lot better prepared for that than we were a month ago,” Kemp said.
In neighboring South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday that he would allow some retail stores to reopen. However, theaters will remain closed. The governor also rescinded a statewide closure of beaches, though local jurisdictions would still have the power to keep their beaches closed.
Also on Monday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced that his “safer at home” order will expire on April 30, allowing “the vast majority” of businesses to reopen on May 1. However, the governor’s decision does not apply to the state’s major population centers, such as Nashville and Memphis, which have their own health departments.
“For the good of our state, social distancing must continue, but our economic shutdown cannot,” Lee said Monday.