ATLANTA — A new order by Gov. Brian Kemp will ease many COVID-19 restrictions starting next week.
Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik is breaking down what will change, and why some people are concerned.
The order takes effect next Thursday and will loosen a lot of the restrictions that have been in place over the past year.
One of the biggest rollbacks will involve restaurants and bars, which will be allowed to go back to full capacity. It will also eliminate the ban on gatherings of more than 50 people and social distancing requirements.
Petchenik talked to restaurant owners who say they appreciate the flexibility. The owner of Table and Main restaurant in Roswell, Ryan Pernice, said revenues are off by about 50% over pre-pandemic levels.
“For me, the governor’s order gives us more flexibility as patrons and guests to determine which business meets me where I’m at on my own comfort level,” Pernice said.
[SPECIAL SECTION: COVID-19 Vaccine in Georgia]
Some public health experts worry the restrictions are being lifted too soon.
Dr. Amber Schmidtke said the main concern is trying to get as many people vaccinated as possible before the heat of summer arrives and people want to gather inside.
“That’s what we saw sort of help contribute to the summer surge last year. And so if you combine the fact that we do have high case rates as it is, we have vaccine, but not enough of it into arms, that pandemic fatigue, I worry that we are going to see another surge,” Schmidtke said.
According to the latest White House coronavirus report, Georgia is 28th worst in the country right now for hospital admissions and deaths, with both metrics up since last week. Georgia also continues to rank near the bottom when it comes to vaccine administration.
But Kemp has said that opening back to normal is crucial for the survival of Georgia businesses.
Kemp sent Petchenik a statement, saying:
“As cases and hospitalizations have continued to decline, and more Georgians are being vaccinated, the Governor is continuing to protect lives and livelihoods by repealing remaining restrictions to help Georgians get back to normal.”