Georgia governor weighs more changes to state’s coronavirus rules

09/01/2020 - Stone Mountain, Georgia - Gov. Brian Kemp answers question from the press before going on a first look of the construction progress at AmazonÕs ATL2 Fulfillment Center in Stone Mountain, Tuesday, September 1, 2020. This center will be AmazonÕs first robotics fulfillment center in Georgia. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Kemp doesn’t want to ‘start shutting things down again’

Gov. Brian Kemp hasn’t made many major changes to Georgia’s coronavirus restrictions for much of the summer. Now he’s monitoring the return of students to schools and college campuses to decide whether to relax more regulations.

“We still have areas that we’re concerned about,” he said. “We still have college kids that haven’t been on campus three or four weeks yet. We still have schools that are opening after Labor Day. So we want to be very cautious, watching another two weeks, and then we’ll see where we go from there.”

Kemp this week signed a new 49-page order that extended dozens of restrictions charting out how businesses and restaurants must operate until Sept. 15. It also renewed a shelter-in-place order for those in long-term care facilities or who are deemed “medically fragile.”

The most significant change Kemp made to the statewide order in recent weeks was a new provision that allowed local governments to impose mask mandates. But he said he’s not likely to return to more drastic restrictions he imposed in April that shuttered bars, nightclubs and close-contact businesses.

“I don’t see us imposing any new restrictions with the numbers we are seeing now,” he said. “I don’t want to go back and start shutting things down again.”

State health data shows that confirmed COVID-19 cases have declined in each of the past six weeks. The number of people currently hospitalized in Georgia for COVID-19 also has steadily dropped, falling below 2,000 for the first time since early July.

Federal statistics show that Georgia has improved in slowing the rate of new coronavirus infections, though recent White House coronavirus task force reports have warned improvements could be erased without more aggressive action.

The governor said he’s particularly worried about a surge in cases over the Labor Day holiday weekend, and urged Georgians to wear masks, practice social distancing and take other precautions.

“Let’s don’t have a Memorial Day bump after Labor Day weekend. Let’s don’t have a July Fourth bump,” he said. “Let’s try to avoid that spike.”

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