Georgia Governor Kemp's New Rules Explained As Mayors Push Back Against Businesses Opening on April 24

Georgia's Governor Brian Kemp has announced that he is lifting some lockdown restrictions before the stay-at-home order ends on April 30. The stay-at-home order went into effect on April 3 in Georgia to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

While only essential businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, have been permitted to remain open during the stay-at-home-order, Kemp's new rules allow other businesses to open their doors as early as Friday.

On April 24, some non-essential businesses will be allowed to reopen, including gyms and fitness centers, body art studios, barbers and hair salons, cosmetologists and nail salons, estheticians, their respective schools, massage therapists, and bowling alleys.

In a statement, Kemp explained that: "Unlike other businesses, these entities have been unable to manage inventory, deal with payroll, and take care of administrative items while we shelter in place.

"This measure allows them to undertake baseline operations that most other businesses in the state have maintained since I issued the shelter-in-place order."

Then, on April 27, theaters, private social clubs and dine-in restaurants will be allowed to reopen. Bars, nightclubs, amusement parks, and live performance venues will remain closed.

However, Kemp made it clear that these businesses would not be reopening for "business as usual."

Governor Brian Kemp
Governor Brian Kemp will allow certain businesses to reopen before the end of Georgia's stay-at-home order. Kevin C. Cox/Getty

The businesses will be allowed to open with minimum basic operations, which include, according to Kemp: "screening workers for fever and respiratory illness, enhancing workplace sanitation, wearing masks and gloves if appropriate, separating workspaces by six feet, teleworking if possible and implementing staggered shifts."

The statewide stay-at-home order will then end on April 30 at 11.59 p.m. Kemp urged Georgia residents to continue following advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Kemp also told Georgia residents in a statement: "Limit your travel and limit who goes with you on errands to prevent potential exposure. If possible, wear face masks or cloth coverings when you are in public to slow the spread of coronavirus."

The Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, told ABC News: "I am extremely concerned about the announcement the governor made. I hope that he's right and I'm wrong, because if he's wrong then more people will die."

Bottoms said that Atlanta has had "good news" because the state was aggressive in its measures and is urging Atlanta residents to stay at home, tweeting: "I will continue to use my voice as mayor of Atlanta to ask people to continue to stay home, follow the science and exercise common sense."

Bo Dorough, Mayor of Albany, also pushed back against Kemp's reopening of certain businesses, telling CNN: "We're simply not ready to reopen. I mean, we have 62 people on ventilators. I think it's rather imprudent to set dates as opposed to goals.

"I mean, even the White House says we're going to do this in phases. And if you look at the four criteria for phase one, we haven't met but one of those criteria. Our hospital is still at capacity and we certainly don't have the capacity to contact trace those people who are infected so that they can be identified and isolated."

Mayor of Augusta Hardie Davis, Jr. told CNN: "If we move as swiftly as the governor's proposing right now, we could find ourselves mashing the gas on the economy when in fact we need to be putting the brake on where we are right now."

Davis said that Georgia should be "continuing with the shelter in place" and "making sure we're flattening the curve," adding, "We're just not there in Georgia."

Davis revealed that he, along with Bottoms and Dorough, was not aware of Gov. Kemp's proposal until it was announced at the press conference. Davis told CNN: "Those of us who are hub city mayors, leading some of Georgia's largest cities, we found ourselves quite frankly shocked by the decision that took place today."

Atlanta implemented a 14-day stay-at-home order on March 24, and Kemp issued a statewide stay-at-home order on April 2, which went into effect on April 3 and was initially intended to last through April 13, but was extended through April 30.

On April 8, Kemp extended Georgia's public health emergency through May 13, after which lockdown restrictions will be lifted for elderly and vulnerable individuals.

Georgia has more than 19,300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus according to the Johns Hopkins University, and 733 deaths according to a statement by Governor Kemp. The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the countries worst affected by COVID-19.

Countries COVID-19 Cases
A chart showing the countries with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of April 20, 2020, 9 a.m. ET. Statista

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC.
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.

Update 4/21/20: The headline and article have been updated to include quotes from Mayors Durough and Davis.