From sporting events to movie theaters and dining, COVID-19 restrictions relax in Georgia

Georgia News

ATLANTA (WSAV) – Georgia’s governor signed a new executive order Thursday that eases certain restrictions previously issued to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The order lays out guidelines for sheltering in place, the reopening of live performance venues and much more.

According to the new measure, starting Tuesday, June 16, indoor movie theaters and cinemas will no longer need to limit the number of people who sit together in a party.

Walk-ins will also be allowed Tuesday at hair salons, barbershops, body art studios — their respective schools — as well as massage therapy establishment and tanning facilities “subject to specific requirements.”

Gov. Brian Kemp’s office says mandatory requirements for operating non-critical infrastructure businesses, for-profit corporations, non-profit corporations and organizations are extended through the end of the month. Specific requirements for previously closed businesses remain in effect.

The governor’s order will allow restaurants to operate at full capacity and allow conventions to take place throughout the state. Visit Savannah President Joseph Marinelli says larger events will bring back business to hotels, transportation services and more.

“We’re getting a lot of inquires, a lot of interest in bringing meetings here and we’re working with all our partners to try and streamline that and make it as efficient as we can for people to do business in our city,” said Marinelli.

Marinelli says bookings will most likely ramp up after Labor Day. He says the governor’s decision to loosen restrictions gives Savannah a competitive edge in the tourism industry.

“Georgia is open for business and Savannah is a very desired destination that people want to go to, so you put two and two together and I think it gives us an edge over other cities,” he said.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson says — as with previous executive orders — the city was not involved in the decision to loosen restrictions. His advice is for businesses to continue abiding by the Safe Savannah Pledge and for residents to continue to social distance, wear masks and sanitize surfaces as much as possible.

“The governor’s order doesn’t give any plan for enforcement,” he said. “Who enforces that?”

Read through the other changes below. The order can be viewed in full on the governor’s website here.

Sheltering in Place: Effective immediately

Georgia residents and visitors 65 and older are no longer required to shelter in place unless:

  • Those persons who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility, including inpatient hospice, assisted living communities, personal care homes, intermediate care homes, community living arrangements, and community integration homes
  • Those persons who have chronic lung disease
  • Those persons who have moderate to severe asthma
  • Those persons who have severe heart disease
  • Those persons who are immunocompromised
  • Those persons, of any age, with class III or severe obesity
  • Those persons diagnosed with the following underlying medical conditions: diabetes, liver disease, and persons with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis

Sports: Effective Tuesday, June 16

  • Professional sports teams and organizations must follow the rules and guidelines set by their respective leagues.
  • High school and collegiate teams and organizations must follow the rules and guidelines set by their applicable conferences or associations.
  • Amateur sports teams and organizations must follow the criteria for non-critical infrastructure entities outlined in the order.

Gatherings: Effective Tuesday, June 16

  • Gatherings of more than 50 people are banned unless there is at least six feet between each person
  • Note: This rule does not apply to critical infrastructure entities, incidental or transitory groupings, or cohabitating individuals.

Drinking and eating: Effective Tuesday, June 16

  • In restaurants and dining rooms, there is no longer a party maximum for the number of people who can sit together.
  • There is no longer a limit on the number of patrons allowed per square foot.
  • Workers at restaurants, dining rooms, banquet facilities, private event facilities, and private reception venues are only required to wear face coverings when they are interacting with patrons.
  • In a bar, now you can have 50 people – up from 25 – or 35 percent of total listed fire capacity, whichever is greater.
  • For salad bars and buffets, a worker can use cafeteria-style service to serve patrons or the establishment can provide hand sanitizer, install a sneeze guard, enforce social distancing, and regularly replace shared utensils to allow patron self-service.

Overnight summer camps: Effective Tuesday, June 16

Campers and workers may not attend an overnight summer camp unless they have received a negative COVID-19 test within 12 days – up from seven days – prior to starting camp.

Conventions: Effective Wednesday, July 1

  • A convention may occur if it meets 21 specific requirements in addition to the requirements for non-critical infrastructure entities.
  • A convention is defined as an organized event of more than 100 persons that are required to register or obtain a license to gather for a common purpose at a single indoor facility or grouping of indoor facilities for more than four hours and in some cases for more than one day
  • A convention includes exhibitions, trade shows, conferences, and business retreats.
  • The term “convention” does not include any regular operation of a business that occurs on property owned or leased for the exclusive operation of such business, nor does the term encompass regular religious services, business meetings, sports competitions, or events categorized by O.C.G.A. § 16-11-173(b)(1)(A).

Live performance venues: Effective Wednesday, July 1

  • A live performance venue may reopen for business if it complies with specific criteria based on whether it is designated Tier I, II, or III.
  • There are certain exceptions in the order for drive-in performances; private recording sessions, livestream performances, practices, fanless events, and rehearsals; and non-ticketed or free events.
  • A live performance venue is defined as any indoor or outdoor location that requires patrons to purchase a license to attend an event featuring live musical, dramatical, automotive, educational, or any other type of entertainment performed before in-person patrons.
  • The term “live performance venue” does not include restaurants and dining rooms, banquet facilities, private event facilities, private reception venues, weddings, drive-in venues, or events held as part of a convention, and the term does not include outdoor recreational fields used for amateur sporting events.

Unless it’s renewed, Georgia’s public health emergency will end Sunday, July 12 at 11:59 p.m.

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