Georgia Department of Health reported more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the same day Governor Brian Kemp lifted the shelter-in-place order, bringing to total confirmed cases to 27,134.
Health officials also reported 33 new deaths on Thursday, bringing to Georgia’s total death toll to 1,140.
The White House coronavirus task force advised states to begin reopening, but Kemp went ahead despite the rising number of cases.
While the shelter-in-place order has been lifted for most residents, Kemp extended Georgia’s public-health state of emergency, and required the elderly and “medically fragile” individuals to shelter in place until June 12.
Kemp allowed some businesses to reopen with social distancing restrictions last week, such as gyms, hair salons, tattoo parlors and massage-therapy centers.
On Wednesday, he ordered restaurants and movie theaters to reopen, while bars, nightclubs, amusement parks and public schools are ordered to remain closed until May 13.
In a Thursday address, Kemp said, “I want to thank the people of our great state who heeded public health advice, afforded us time to bolster our health care infrastructure and flatten the curve. We were successful in these efforts, but the fight is far from over.”
Kemp cleared that businesses must take safety measures that includes “screening workers for fever and respiratory illness, enhancing workplace sanitation, wearing masks & gloves if appropriate, separating workspaces by six feet, teleworking if possible & implementing staggered shifts.”
The governor also encouraged residents to wear masks where they’ll be close to others.
However, enforcing the guidelines across the board remains unclear, especially in places where it is necessary for people to be within six feet of one another.
Kemp claims that loosening restrictions makes sense since almost half of the coronavirus deaths were linked to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, completely disregarding warnings of possibly spreading the virus from public health experts and other Georgia elected officials.