SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order that rolls back COVID-19 restrictions took effect Thursday.
The new COVID-19 guidance is effective from April 8 through April 30.
Some of the rollback guidance includes the elimination of the gatherings ban, the removal of shelter in place requirements, the reduction of remaining distance requirements and removes the ability of law enforcement to close an organization for failure to comply with previous executive order provisions.
“We know hard-working Georgians cannot endure another year like the last,” the governor said in a video announcement.
Dr. Lawton Davis, the health director of the Coastal Health District, says he is concerned about the area’s community transmission index, which is the number of coronavirus cases present per 100 thousand residents.
Right now, it stands at around 145. Ideally, it would be around 20.
“One thing I worry about with the loosening of restrictions is that some people will say ‘Oh well, it must be OK, it’s over with, we don’t need to be vaccinated.’ That certainly is not the case,” said Davis.
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson is encouraging businesses and hotels to voluntarily comply with mask requirements. Davis says it’s on everyone now to take personal responsibility.
“While I understand the reasoning behind opening up restrictions, I think people just need to remember that we are still in a pandemic and the virus is still out there,” he said.
Keith Gay, the owner of Tybee Beach Vacation Rentals, says a lot of businesses are still grappling with the heavy economic losses caused by the pandemic shutting down storefronts and prompting cancellations.
He says it’s a difficult situation for most owners who need the surplus of a good tourist season to get by — something the owner believes could be undone by reopening too quickly.
“It would break my heart to see this relief open up the doors to people who mean well, but then they get infected and we start all over again. That’s my concern,” Gay said. “As a business person, we all want the same thing, as much freedom as possible to operate.”
Read more about the governor’s new executive order here.