Certain Georgia businesses will be allowed to reopen with specific restrictions Friday, Gov. Brian Kemp said during a press conference Monday.
These businesses include gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, aestheticians, their respective schools and massage therapists, Kemp said.
“These entities I am reopening are not reopening as business as usual,” Kemp said. “Today’s announcement is a small step forward and should be treated as such.”
Kemp said these businesses have not been able to maintain baseline operations as other businesses have under the statewide shelter-in-place order, which began April 3 and ends April 30.
Theaters, private social clubs and restaurant dine-in services will be allowed to reopen April 27. Bars, nightclubs, amusement park rides and live performance venues will remain closed for further evaluation, Kemp said.
These businesses will have to follow proper sanitation and social distancing measures. Kemp also said minimum basic operations must be observed, such as screening workers for fevers and separating workspaces by 6 feet. Workers will have to wear gloves and masks when appropriate.
These revised guidelines will be implemented across Georgia and override any local action, Kemp said. Georgia’s public health emergency will expire on May 13, and “medically fragile and elderly Georgians” should shelter in place until then, Kemp said.
Kemp’s announcement comes after President Donald Trump’s administration announced guidelines to reopening the economy on April 16.
Prior to entering phase one of the Trump administration’s plan, states must see a decrease in reported influenza-like illness and coronavirus cases in a 14-day period. Additionally, hospitals should be able to treat patients without crisis care and implement a testing program for health care workers.
The Trump administration’s phase one criteria includes social distancing when in public and avoiding groups of more than 10 people. Vulnerable people should continue to shelter in place. However, gyms and large venues could open if they follow strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols. Bars would remain closed.
During the press conference, Kemp also announced new measures to expand testing, including the rollout of Augusta University’s app, AU Health ExpressCare, that can screen and schedule testing for Georgians. Physicians from Augusta University Health and the Medical College of Georgia can screen patients to determine if they are eligible for testing.
“Testing defines the battlefield and informs our long term strategy,” Kemp said.
More than 84,000 Georgians have been tested for COVID-19 as of noon Monday, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.