“This is still a dangerous world,” he added.
Reopened businesses will have to follow social distancing guidelines, screen workers for fever and respiratory illnesses, and take other steps to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus.
“We have been surgical, targeted and methodical,” Kemp said Monday, “always putting the health and well-being of our citizens first, and doing our best to protect lives — and livelihoods — in every part of Georgia.”
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The governor also announced that theaters and dine-in restaurants will be allowed to reopen April 27. However, a statewide shelter-at-home order remains in effect through the end of the month, and Kemp said the elderly and people who are “medically fragile” should stay home until at least mid-May.
“By taking this measured action, we will get Georgians back to work safely without undermining the progress that we have all made in the battle against COVID-19,” Kemp said.
The announcement, expected since late last week, came as Georgia’s death toll from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, reached 775 by Monday evening — an increase of 86 since Sunday night. Laboratory tests have confirmed coronavirus diagnoses in more than 19,000 Georgians.
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At Monday’s news conference, Kemp and Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the state public health commissioner, said the governor’s plan complies with federal guidelines on lifting state lockdowns imposed to contain the coronavirus. President Donald Trump said last week that states should have adequate hospital, testing and contact-tracing capacity in place before starting the process of reopening their economies.
Kemp was among the last of the nation’s governors to impose statewide social distancing measures and now is among the first to begin lifting them. With applications for unemployment benefits soaring and companies large and small limiting their operations, he has been under pressure from business leaders and some political figures to end the lockdown as soon as possible.