Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is easing more restrictions in his state.
This week, he announced that bars and nightclubs can welcome customers again on June 1. “Bars and nightclubs can decide to reopen if they comply with strict sanitation and social distancing rules, all crafted to reflect industry practices and mitigate health risk. To open their doors, bars and nightclubs must meet thirty-nine mandatory measures to ensure patron well-being,” Kemp said, according to WSB-TV.
Kemp is permitting summer camps to continue and pro sports to take part in team activities, plus increasing the number of people allowed at gatherings. Amusement parks will be able to resume operations on June 12. However, live entertainment venues must remain shuttered.
“Starting June 1, 2020, you can have gatherings of more than twenty-five people in a single location if you have at least six feet between each person,” Kemp said. "Small weddings, recreational sports, and similar events will be able to resume with a little more flexibility, but we are asking everyone to stay vigilant. Please continue to follow public health advice as you engage in these activities.”
Yet as Kemp is lifting restrictions, he’s also extended Georgia’s state of emergency until July 12—and after Memorial Day, there’s been an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
“We continue to strongly encourage all Georgians and visitors to wear face coverings in public to mitigate viral spread, and restrictions remain intact for nearly every Georgia business to keep employees and customers safe,” Kemp said. “Across the peach state, businesses are reopening their doors with robust safety precautions in place and customers are slowly but surely returning,” Kemp said.
Kemp recognized the surge in the number of cases after the holiday weekend, but charged it to a private company who just unloaded a backlog of 15,000 test results dating to April—and to an increase in testing done at nursing homes.
“It’s good that they got caught up. It’s bad that they had a big dump, so it looks like we had a spike, but really, when you kind of spread that out over that time frame, it wasn’t anything unusual,” Kemp said.
Not everyone agrees. The House Democratic Caucus has continued to track the state’s numbers and noticed the spike. “We’re not charting anything that’s going down. Our charts are telling us everything is going up. We haven’t sustained any downward turn for any extended period of time and now it looks like it’s going up,” said Georgia Rep. Shelly Hutchinson (D-Snellville).
Kemp started relaxing restrictions in late April, with Georgia becoming one of the first states to allow barbershops, nail salons, and restaurants to open while enforcing social distancing measures.