SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – With businesses reopening across the state, Gov. Brian Kemp issued a new executive order to keep certain businesses closed through the end of May.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Kemp announced he is extending an order shuttering bars, nightclubs and performance venues through May 31st under the new measure.
“I know this extension is difficult for many Georgia business owners and communities with music venues,” he said. “However, we believe that waiting a little bit longer will enhance health outcomes and give folks the opportunity to prepare for safe reopening in the near future,” Kemp said.
Gatherings are still limited to a maximum of 10 people unless six feet of social distancing can be maintained. This applies to “all non-critical infrastructure businesses, local governments, and organizations of all types, including social groups, informal get-togethers, and recreational sports.”
However, the governor is allowing for larger groups in restaurants.
Under the order 10 patrons per 300 square feet are allowed in restaurants and dining rooms. Party sizes can increase from a maximum of six people up to 10.
Kemp said industry-specific restrictions for recently reopened businesses will be extended through the end of the month.
“While returning to a new normal is exciting, the current guidelines make it difficult for parents to find childcare for their children,” Kemp said, adding that his order will allow more people in a single room of a childcare facility.
The capacity can increase from 10 to 20 people as long as there are enough staff members to account for the growth.
“Childcare facilities must continue to adhere to 13 minimum, mandatory criteria to be able to operate, including strict screening procedures and sanitation mandates for frequently touched items and surfaces,” Kemp added.
The governor will not be allowing overnight summer camps at this time — but he is opening the floor for day camps.
Summer day camps can operate starting May 14th if they can meet “32 minimum, mandatory criteria.”
“These requirements are extensive and cover a wide range of operations to ensure the safety of camp workers and participants of all ages,” Kemp stated.
The governor said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to issue guidance for camps soon, but he wanted to go ahead and offer some guidelines.
“Many have warned of a ‘second wave’ and asked if we are willing to change course if conditions decline,” Kemp said, “Let me be clear: we will continue to track the numbers and continue to heed Dr. Toomey’s advice.”
Part of the the tracking effort includes ramping up efforts on contact tracing.
The governor announced a new online monitoring tool called the Healthy Georgia Collaborative, which will allow Georgians who test positive for COVID-19 to enter information on their contacts and symptoms.
Others will then be able to view the information in an effort to identify possible contacts.
Kemp ensured that health data will remain confidential and only the information entered by an individual will be available.
Details on the new tool are still rolling out but the governor said staff from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) will be spearheading the effort. Public health officials said the online tool should “make contact tracing more efficient.”
“If you are contacted by DPH staff, we strongly encourage you to participate in the contact tracing program,” Kemp said. “We need your help to defeat this virus.”
People who are identified as “contacts” will be asked to self-quarantine and will be monitored with daily text messages. Individuals will be asked to report their symptoms via the online platform, through text, or over the phone.
The DPH said 250 contact tracers are currently working across the state, focusing on COVID-19 “hot spots.” The public health organization is working in partnership with the CDC to increase their contact tracers to over 1,000 people in the next few weeks.
Click here to learn more about the state’s contact tracing for COVID-19.
To read the governor’s new executive order in full, visit here.