Georgia governor gives restaurants, gyms, barbers go-ahead to reopen

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ATLANTA (WSAV) — It’s been nearly three weeks since Gov. Brian Kemp issued a shelter-in-place order for Georgia to combat the spread of COVID-19.

But some businesses will now reopen as early as Friday, Kemp said, in order to revitalize the state’s economy.

The governor gave the green light Monday for many businesses, citing new health data that shows Georgia’s curve has flattened. Kemp said Georgia is “on track” to meet phase 1 guidelines given by the White House.

As the governor said when he issued the order to shelter, his mandate supersedes any local measures that are more or less strict.

Businesses to reopen

Gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, estheticians — along with their respective schools — and massage therapists can reopen Friday.

On Monday, restaurants can open back up for dining. Private social clubs and theaters can reopen as well.

Still, bars, nightclubs, amusement parks and live performance venues must remain closed through Thursday, April 30, until the state’s shelter-in-place order expires.

Watch the governor’s full remarks:

The governor said, however, it won’t be back to “business as usual.” Six feet of social distance must apply as well as strict sanitization efforts. Wearing masks and gloves should be worn “if appropriate.”

Employers should screen workers for fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, Kemp said. Teleworking or staggered shifts should remain in place.

Hospitals can also perform elective surgeries as needed. Places of worship can host in-person services, sticking to social distancing guidelines.

Status of testing

“For weeks, I have expressed my frustration with the status of testing and committed more resources to expansion,” the governor said. He recounted the testing efforts that have been made, including partnering with the University of System of Georgia to increase processing.

Kemp announced that Augusta University will be using 3D printers, which have already been used to make face shields for healthcare workers, to produce testing swabs in the Dental College of Georgia innovation lab. The governor said the lab will create “thousands of swabs per day.”

Kemp says Augusta University (AU), Emory University, Georgia State University and the Georgia Public Health Lab will process the new tests in a new partnership.

Georgians who are showing signs of the coronavirus are encouraged to download a new app or call a clinician to get screened.

Kemp says an online patient portal is expected to roll out this week on the app. In roughly 72 hours, app users would be able to access test results. A medical provider would contact a patient directly if they are positive.

In addition, the Georgia National Guard will send 10 new teams to administer 1,500 tests per day in “hotspots” and long-term care facilities.

Meanwhile, the governor commended Georgians who have taken steps to combat COVID-19. “Your sacrifice literally helped us save lives,” he said.

Kemp still encouraged residents to shelter in place as often as possible, adding that the medically fragile should stay home at least until mid-May.

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