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'Georgia is open for business' | Gov. Kemp lifts many COVID-19 restrictions starting Thursday

Governor Brian Kemp declared, “Georgia is open for business” as his executive order removing most statewide restrictions takes effect Thursday, April 8.

ATLANTA — Most of the COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place across Georgia will no longer be in effect on Thursday.

Governor Brian Kemp tweeted Wednesday that “Georgia is open for business” after a year when small businesses, especially, struggled to stay afloat and bring customers in, while keeping the virus out.

Many welcomed the governor’s order. However, not everyone is rushing to change what they’ve been doing, just because the state says they can.

At first, during the pandemic, Atmosphere French Restaurant in Midtown Atlanta struggled to survive.

Now, with limited seating spaced far apart outside and inside, plus with a robust take-out service, Owner Julian Sery said Wednesday that business is recovering just fine the way it is.

“We probably will keep the restrictions in place for a little longer,” Sery said, “until we feel everybody can be safe. We want our customers to feel safe when they come here. So we’ll see how the vaccine goes and how people, the customers, react to the changes, and we’ll make a decision from there.”

The changes, statewide, as of Thursday include:

  • No more 6-foot distancing requirements for businesses
  • No more restrictions on the size of gatherings
  • No more shelter-in-place required
  • No more enforcement of the remaining restrictions

Service employees must still wear masks, for example.

Many restaurants, bars, and other businesses are ready to increase their capacity; their customers say they are comfortable being closer to each other.

However, many others are not ready.

“I think it’s still a little too soon,” Sharalyn Daniel said at her table at Atmosphere, several feet away from other tables. "Because everyone is just starting to get vaccinated.”

Even with the new executive order in place, the governor is still urging people to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.