ATLANTA - Governor Brian Kemp laid out Georgia's plan to reopen more businesses while maintaining social distancing and continuing its fight against COVID-19 during a press conference held at the Capitol on Thursday afternoon. He was joined by members of Georgia's COVID-19 task force.
For the second time since the coronavirus pandemic began, Gov. Kemp has renewed a state of emergency for the state of Georgia. The declaration helps to free-up resources and quickly continue to respond to the pandemic. The renewed declaration now will expire at 11:59 p.m. on July 12.
The governor also announced the roll out a series of opening dates for different businesses and organizations beginning with summer overnight camps on May 31 under previously released guidelines.
"Our next step, like the ones before, puts the health and well-being of the citizenry first. Today, I signed a new executive order to extend specific safety precautions, outlined guidance for overnight summer camps and summer school, and outline important rules for reopening shuttered businesses," Kemp said.
Starting June 1, Gov. Kemp said bars and nightclubs can reopen with restrictions "if they comply with strict sanitation and social distancing rules" as can professional and amateur sports.
"To open their doors, bars and nightclubs must be 39 mandatory measures to ensure patron well-being," the governor said.
The governor also relaxed social distancing rules for business already opened.
"Starting June 1, 2020, you can have gatherings of more than 25 people in a single location if you have at least 6 feet in between each person," the governor said.
Gov. Kemp continued to urge all Georgians to wear masks while out in public to help prevent the spread of the virus and protect the medically fragile.
"The shelter in place order for Georgians who are 65 and older or medically fragile will continue through June 12, 2020, with exceptions for necessary activities including work, medical appointments, grocery shopping, home health services, and related categories," the governor said.
On June 12, the governor said amusement park rides, traveling carnivals, water parks, circuses, and other temporary amusement rides can begin operations again.
"To open at that time, they must comply with 33 mandatory requirements in addition to all the requirements for non-critical infrastructure businesses," the governor added.
Six Flags Over Georgia earlier this week released how they planned to handle its reopening, but the official measures have not been released by the state.
Concert and other live venues will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
"At this time live performance venues will remain closed. I know that these closures are tough on business owners and their employees, but we will continue to watch the data to ensure the health and safety of our citizens," the governor said.
The daily updates to the COVID-19 numbers page run by the state will now only update at 3 p.m.
The governor also said President Trump has assured him funding will be extended for the Georgia National Guard to help in the fight.
"The men and women of the National Guard have been doing a great job fighting the CoronaVirus. This week, I will extend their Title 32 orders through mid-August, so they can continue to help States succeed in their response and recovery efforts," President Trump wrote in a tweet Thursday.
He also urged anyone who needs medical attention for anything to seek out medical professionals and not let the coronavirus pandemic get in the way.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp during a COVID-19 press briefing from the state capitol in Atlanta Thursday, May 21, 2020.
The Republican governor’s comments came as state data shows the number of new daily infections trending upward after weeks of decline.
“We can’t keep fighting the virus from our living room,” Kemp said, according to a video of his remarks posted online by WMAZ-TV. Kemp was touring a temporary medical pod set up at a hospital in Macon.
Gov. Brian Kemp addresses the press while touring a temporary medical pod set up at a hospital in Macon, GA Wednesday, May 27, 2020.
Georgia has had more than 44,000 confirmed cases of the virus, according to data from the state Department of Public Health. At least 1,905 people in the state have died.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
More than 100,000 people in the U.S. have died.
Kemp said that using common sense and following health advice, including social distancing and wearing masks, will allow Georgians to get out of their homes safely and help spur the economy. He said people should patronize businesses that follow health restrictions and sanitation guidelines.
A seven-day moving average of confirmed cases provided by the health department shows the number of new daily cases in Georgia declining between April 22 and May 11, then beginning to trend back upward.
Screenshot taken May 28, 2020 of Georgia COVID-19 Cases over time releases by the Department of Public Health.
Georgia was one of the first states in the nation to allow businesses including tattoo parlors and bowling alleys to reopen in late April, despite warnings from public health experts that the move was too soon.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.