X

Georgia is relaxing more coronavirus rules. Here’s what it means.

Starting June 1, bars and nightclubs can reopen if they comply with strict social distancing and sanitation rules.
Starting June 1, bars and nightclubs can reopen if they comply with strict social distancing and sanitation rules.

Bars, nightclubs and amusement parks can soon reopen, summer schools can resume in-person coursework, overnight camps can welcome campers and sports teams can take the field again under new rules signed by Gov. Brian Kemp.

Here's a closer look at the order, which takes effect Monday, June 1.:

>>More: Georgia eases more virus restrictions, letting bars and nightclubs reopen

Who must still shelter in place?

The governor's order requires people 65 and older and the "medically fragile" – including those in nursing homes, with chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma and severe heart disease – to shelter in place through June 12. The order carves out broad exceptions for travel, work and exercise, which can be found here.

What must bars do to reopen on June 1?

Among the 33 regulations they must meet are requirements to limit capacity to 25 people or 35% of the bar’s maximum occupancy, whichever is greater; require workers to wear face masks; enforce social distancing of “non-cohabitating” customers; establish seating areas to discourage loitering at the bar; limit party sizes to six people at each table; and encourage a reservations-only model “where practical.”

What about restaurants?

Restaurants are still required to abide by 39 restrictions to open their dining rooms. They must screen employees for symptoms of the disease, require them to wear face masks, limit contact with customers, meet strict sanitation standards, limit party sizes at tables to 10 people, shutter playgrounds and install physical barriers “where practicable.”

When can live performance venues reopen?

It’s not yet clear, but the order specifies that all live performance venues “shall not engage in in-person operations” and remain closed at least through June 15 when the order expires.

And sports leagues? 

Professional teams can resume play in Georgia if they follow rules and regulations approved by their leagues. Amateur sports organizations must adhere to other guidelines listed in the order.

So, summer schools can return to in-person learning?

Yes. The order lists 11 guidelines for summer schools, though it says they won’t be forced to abide by them because of “limited resources of school districts.” They include prohibitions on unnecessary physical contact, permitting students to take lunch breaks outside and bans on gatherings on school premises outside of instructional time.

Overnight camps can reopen, too?

Yes, if they follow 33 measures. Among them: requirements that all campers and workers be tested for the disease before arriving on campus, strict limits on camp occupancy and rearranging bunks so that beds are six feet apart. All campers and workers are required to stay on premises unless there’s an emergency, and those who leave can’t return unless they’re re-tested for the disease.

Can amusement parks resume operations?

Yes, the order allows them to resume June 12 if they meet 33 separate regulations. They must limit capacity, enforce social distancing at all times, screen visitors for signs of the disease, reduce the number of patrons on each ride and stagger seating on every other row with some rides, closing other attractions where social-distancing is impossible.

Water parks must meet other criteria that ban wave pools, and require a timed-entry system to limit the number of swimmers in pools.

What about other businesses that have recently reopened?

The order specifies guidelines for some individual businesses. Bowling alleys operators must sanitize ball returns and stagger use of lanes. Theaters must ensure each group of patrons is seated at least six feet apart. Gyms must require workers to enforce wipe-down policies for equipment.

How does the order affect gatherings?

Previously, gatherings of more than 10 people were only permitted if social distancing was practiced. The new rules allow gatherings of as many as 25 people with no requirement that they be spaced six feet apart.

How does Kemp have the power to take these steps? 

With the approval of legislative leaders, Kemp extended a public health declaration that was first issued on March 14 until July 12. The order gives him sweeping emergency powers to restrict behavior and suspend laws to fight the pandemic.

About the Author

ajc.com