Bars, nightclubs and live performance venues will remain closed until May 31, Gov. Brian Kemp said in a Tuesday press conference.
Kemp said waiting to reopen will lead to better health outcomes and allow business owners to prepare for a safe reopening.
Certain businesses in Georgia, including gyms and barber shops, were allowed to reopen on April 24. Theaters, private social clubs and restaurant dine-in services were allowed to reopen April 27.
Mandatory restrictions for reopened businesses, such as sanitation guidelines and social distancing requirements, remain in place. Tuesday’s executive order also increases the number of people allowed inside restaurants to 10 patrons per 300 square feet. The number of people that can sit at a table together has increased from six to 10, the order said.
Certain state employees will return to work in person on May 18, Kemp said. The Department of Administrative Services will give guidance to specific state agencies that will begin in-person operations.
Kemp noted that Georgians who are 65 and older or medically fragile should continue to shelter in place until June 12. The statewide shelter-in-place order expired for most people on April 30. Social distancing measures are still in place, and gatherings of over 10 people unable to keep 6 feet apart are not allowed, Kemp said.
Kemp and Kathleen Toomey, Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner, said the state is contact tracing cases of COVID-19 to map where the disease is spreading. People who tested positive will be contacted by the DPH and asked to enter data on who they had contact with while infectious in order to map the spread of the disease.
Toomey said the DPH currently has 250 staff members working on contact tracing and plans to have 1,000 by June 23. The DPH will release an online monitoring tool called Healthy Georgia Collaborative to show the contact tracing map, Kemp said. Contact tracing is a state preparedness requirement in the federal plan to reopen states.
Georgia received a shipment of remdesivir from the federal government Tuesday, Kemp said. The drug was approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after a study showed it shortened the amount of days COVID-19 patients were hospitalized. The DPH will distribute remdesivir to hospitals using an algorithm and federal guidance, Toomey said.
“We want to create a consistent algorithm that will be the most fair and provide the most impact in those hardest-hit areas,” Toomey said.
Kemp encouraged all Georgians to get tested for COVID-19. The DPH opened testing criteria to everybody, including asymptomatic people, on May 8.
There are currently over 34,000 cases of COVID-19 in Georgia as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the DPH. More than 260,000 people have been tested.
Kemp also discussed Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot to death on Feb. 23 by Gregory McMichael in Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael were arrested on charges of murder and aggravated assault on May 7. A video of Arbery’s death was leaked in early May.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr urged the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice to look into the delayed investigation of Arbery’s death. Cobb District Attorney Joyette Holmes will lead the prosecution, Kemp said in the conference.
“There are many questions that have yet to be answered,” Kemp said. “And frankly, Georgians deserve the truth.”