TYBEE ISLAND, GA - APRIL 3, 2020: A large Georgia Department of Transportation sign, along the causeway to Tybee Island, informs motoriest of Georgia Gov. Bryan Kemp's executive order allowing people to access the state's beaches for exercise, with social distancing of at least 6 feet. Kemp's statewide order superseding some city-level shelter-in-place mandates. (AJC Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Photo: Stephen B. Morton/Stephen B. Morton for The Atlant
Photo: Stephen B. Morton/Stephen B. Morton for The Atlant

Georgia beaches reopened as of Friday night

Some of the state’s most popular beaches will be allowed to reopen Friday night due to Gov. Brian Kemp’s statewide order superseding that of some city-level shelter-in-place mandates.

Georgia beach communities, including Tybee Island, had closed in response to local mandates imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19, according to Candice Broce, Kemp’s director of communications. The beaches had the option to reopen at the start of the stay-at-home order’s execution at 6 p.m. Friday.

“The Georgia State Patrol and Department of Natural Resources are increasing patrols on the beaches, parking lots, and surrounding areas. The highways leading to these areas will have increased patrols. Beach paraphernalia will be prohibited. All of these resources will be in place at 6 PM tonight onward,” Broce told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

»Confusion surrounds Georgia’s coronavirus lockdown rules

»MORE: What Georgians need to know about the shelter-in-place order

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Greg Bluestein unpacks the new stay-at-home order set in place by Governor Brian Kemp. (Video by Ryon Horne, Photos by AJC Staff)

Because Kemp’s executive order allows for exercise outside, with social distancing of at least 6 feet, the beaches are viable options for Georgians. Previous orders called for those beach areas to close. Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions was alerted to this Friday morning.

“Early this AM, I notified Mayor Sessions that this would impact the beach in that it was not expressly closed in the new order. (The DNR commissioner) explained that it would allow exercise on the beach by individuals/family groups but NO congregating,” Tybee State Rep. Jesse Petrea said in a Facebook post.

Petrea added that DNR rangers would patrol the beaches to ensure the order is followed. 

» The day after: Officials respond to beaches’ reopening

Chairs, tents or umbrellas are not allowed during the period of the order, which will be in place until 11:59 p.m. April 13, according to DNR.

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