Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday extended the statewide public state of emergency through June 12 but lifted the shelter-in-place order for all but those most at risk for the COVID-19 illness.
The governor signed an executive order to renew the public health state of emergency that he had declared on March 14. The order had been set to expire on May 13, but will now be extended another 30 days, until 11:59 p.m. on June 12. Kemp reserved the option to extend the order yet again.
Kemp issued another executive order on April 1, which required residents to stay home and limited travel to essential activities. In a statement on Thursday, Kemp said that he would allow that order to expire as scheduled at midnight this morning, May 1.
Yet some Georgians will remain under that order.
“To protect vulnerable populations, I will sign an order today requiring medically fragile and elderly Georgians to continue to shelter in place through June 12, 2020,” Kemp said in a release issued by his office.
“In addition, I will order long-term care facilities — including nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living facilities, and similar community living homes — to utilize enhanced infection control protocols, ensure safer living conditions, and protect residents and staff from coronavirus exposure.”
Under these rules, people ages 65 and older and have underlying conditions such as diabetes, severe asthma, and heart disease must continue to shelter in place.
Kemp’s executive order was issued to check the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, an illness that as of Thursday had infected 26,208 people in Georgia and caused 1,128 deaths, including 14 deaths in Carroll County.
The shutdown has caused many businesses to close or to operate in a different manner. It has also caused unemployment claims to soar. Last week, Kemp said he would allow some businesses to resume operations, albeit with restrictions that would protect customers and employees from infection. Kemp faced some criticism over the move from those who felt his action was premature.
Bars, nightclubs, public swimming pools, live performance venues and amusement parks will remain closed until May 13, unless extended.
The body art studios, barbers, cosmetologists, hair designers, nail care artists, aestheticians, massage therapists, and tanning facilities that were allowed to re-open last week must continue to meet sanitation and social distancing requirements. Bowling alleys, gyms, movie theaters and fitness centers have similar guidelines to follow until this date.
Large gatherings of 10 or more people are still not allowed by businesses or local governments. Exceptions include family units or roommates, critical infrastructure, and dining rooms or restaurants.
Carroll County Commission Chairman Michelle Morgan issued a statement Thursday saying that she is “pleased” the governor extended the public health state of emergency.
“My elderly parents are staying next door to my home right now and I am not yet ready for them to transition back to their residence just yet, as I know they are taken care of and safe and not yet ready to integrate back into the public,” Morgan wrote.
“As always, our hopes are that the number of those infected continue to tick downward as everyone does their part to stay healthy.”
Carrollton Mayor Betty Cason said she also agrees with the governor’s decision.