Gov. Kemp lifts most remaining COVID-19 restrictions effective immediately

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp has signed an executive order lifting most of the state’s remaining coronavirus restrictions.

That means safety restrictions on places like restaurants, bars and gyms will be gone starting Saturday.

Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon talked with one restaurant owner tonight who said the lifting of the restrictions is coming a little too soon for him and that he’ll be keeping the restrictions in place at his restaurant.

But for so many of these restaurants across the state, they’ve been struggling, and they welcome this news from the governor.

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Just like at so many other restaurants and bars across the state, it’s been a long year at Manuel’s Tavern in Atlanta.

“I think that’s great news. I’m very optimistic over it. I’m glad the governor is lifting those restrictions,” said owner Brian Maloof.

He told Wilfon while he appreciates the governor’s lifting of restrictions on restaurants, it’s too soon for him.

“The last thing I want or anybody else wants is a resurgence of this virus, so we’re going to continue to play it super safe at Manuel’s,” Maloof said.

In an executive order, Kemp lifted most of the state’s remaining coronavirus restrictions, including ending requirements that tables at restaurants be spaced out and that restaurant workers wear masks.

“So your workers are not going to be ripping off their masks tomorrow?” Wilfon asked Maloof.

“Oh, no,” Maloof said.

[LINK: Where to find the COVID-19 vaccine in Georgia]

The governor’s order also lifts safety requirements for gyms, movie theaters and hair salons, as well as eases restrictions for live performance venues.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that people in public spaces stay 6 feet apart, something that seems to conflict with the governor’s order.

“It just seems a little early. It just seems a little early,” Maloof said.

There is something else in the governor’s order that could affect a lot of parents — it also eliminates the requirement that child care facilities keep out all unnecessary visitors.

Earlier this month, Kemp loosened restrictions on bars and restaurants, allowing concert venues and restaurants to be at full capacity. He also ended the ban on gatherings.

Here are the key provisions of the new executive order:

1. Modifies the social distancing and sanitation requirements for residents and visitors to “strongly encouraged.”

2. Eliminates the restaurant and bar table distancing requirements and workers mask requirement.

3. Eliminates all specific requirements for gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters, body art studios, estheticians, hair stylists, and massage therapists.

4. Reduces the requirements for conventions.

5. Eliminates the requirement that childcare facilities prohibit all unnecessary visitors.

6. Provides that live performance venues, regardless of seating capacity, are only required to follow the guidelines for all organizations, and such venues may implement additional measures in conjunction with the performer or organizer of an event.

7. Maintains that professional, collegiate, and high school sports organizations and events shall operate pursuant to the rules or guidelines issued by their respective league, conference, or association.

8. Clarifies that graduation ceremonies are only required to follow the guidelines for all organizations.

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